The Frinton Residents’ Association

 

REPORT on the Open Meeting held after the AGM

on

Saturday, 30 April 2011

 

Special Note:  Updates to the answers to the questions raised have been printed in red below.

 

Sgt Pete Gerard reported that he could not say that Frinton had a clean sheet for Crime, but in the last 2-3 months, there was not too much to report.  He stated that they were pushing forward with Community Speed Watch where they were asking for residents and members of the public to use speed guns.  Councillors had been trained to be effective in this regard, but Residents needed to be included.  He asked anybody who was keen to be involved, to please contact him at the end of the meeting.

 

Q: Would Traffic Officers cease joy riding along the Promenade?

A:  I am not aware that this is happening, and would like to speak to you after the meeting.  Police Officers should dictate the standards and if someone falls short, I need to know more about it.
After further scrutiny, it was revealed that the police vehicles being driven were those directed to do so in line with our strategy over beach hut patrolling.  Access should normally have been “out of hours”.  Police have keys to secure the barriers once we have opened them and passed through.  The vehicles should be driven at very low speeds to ensure public safety.

 

Q: A lot of emergency vehicles use sirens after 10.30 pm, and we would like to ask for some consideration because we feel it is not necessary, particularly for paramedics.  Can the level of the noise of sirens be reduced?

A: I would like to clarify that an Officer is trained to meet a standard and within the course they are taught how to risk assess certain areas including time of night, etc.  Generally, I subscribe to your thoughts:  Walton Road is a long road, and it is not in the town centre.  However, a trained Officer might have a different perspective.  I can send out a message, but someone has worked out the level of noise for sirens and this cannot be adjusted.  I will investigate the criteria for paramedics.
All local Police staff  have been asked to make sure the use of sirens is proportionate and proper.  In each and every circumstance the officers have been asked to take due consideration for other road users’ safety and local residents’ comfort.

 

Q: Are people aware of egg throwing incidents taking place in Third Avenue, after which costly repairs to cars have had to be undertaken?

A:  This has been explored, and I understand only one household is involved.  They are the repeated victims of anti-social behaviour, and we are working with them to try and resolve the situation.
No further reports of this occurring, but the situation is still being monitored to ensure no further re-ignition of problems.

 

Mrs Linda Belgrove, Independent Member and Vice Chairman of the Local Police Authority, added that if anyone had any policing questions, they could also speak to her after the meeting.

 

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The Chairman introduced Claire Moore (CM), Project Co-ordinator for the Digital Switchover Help Scheme who started her presentation by explaining what the Digital Switchover involved.  She asked for a show of hands to indicate how many people could currently watch more than 5 TV channels, and stated that after the switchover problems would disappear as the signal would be 10 times its current strength and the coverage would be increased.  She pointed out that on 6 July the analogue BBC2 signal would be turned off followed by the remainder of analogue channels on 20 July 2011. TV sets would need to be retuned when the analogue signals were no longer available.

 

Q: What about those people who cannot re-tune TV sets themselves?

CM explained the scheme available to help people which included support services and 12 months’ aftercare. (NB Full details are available on page 19 of the Autumn 2011 edition of the FRA Newsletter.)

 

Q: It is great that we have information on the changeover and the set top box conversion, but you have not mentioned tape recorders which cannot be used.  Isn’t there going to be a cost for the person who has to buy new recording equipment?

A.  Recording equipment that only has an analogue tuner cannot pick up a digital signal.  Therefore, although it is possible to play tapes back, it will be necessary to buy a digital recording device with HD in order to record one programme while watching another.  It will also be possible to have two digital tuners.  Recorders can cost from £80 upwards, but not everyone wants to record.

 

Q: I currently listen to radio via my television.  Is this signal going to improve?

A:  This is only a television signal, not radio.

 

Q: What about Freesat?

A:  Freesat receives a signal from satellite so it is not necessary to re-tune.  With Sky, or any other cable providers, you do not need to re-tune.

 

The Chairman thanked CM for her presentation.

 

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As it had not been possible for Officers from either the County or the Town Council to attend the meeting to explain the current situation with regard to County and Town Council Finances, the Chairman read out the answer provided by County Councillor Mick Page to the question of whether it was known if any services would cease (given at a recent meeting with FRA representatives) as follows:

 

“Delivery might be different but front line services have been saved.  Although 450 staff still have to be shed, this could come about as the result of the option of early retirement, etc, rather than redundancies.”

 

and the Honorary Secretary read out a statement provided by Councillor Robert Bucke on behalf of Frinton and Walton Town Council:

 

“Our Town Council Clerk will not be available for the FRA AGM, but I can reaffirm that there is to be no increase in the Town Council precept, and Government is currently saying that there will NOT be any increase until beyond 2015 at the earliest.  Therefore, any changes within the budget proposals of this and the next Council will require careful management of expenditure and reserves.  Opportunities to increase income will, of course, be fully explored.”

 

The Chairman explained that FRA representatives regularly attend meetings with Essex County Council, Tendring District Council and Frinton & Walton Town Council, and that as the FRA continue to meet with their representatives, she would continue to bring information to residents.  She then introduced Jim Smetherham (JS), Assistant Head of Finance, Tendring District Council, who provided a presentation on District Council Finances as follows:

 

JS explained responsibilities in the Council where within the 2010/2011 budget of £21.9million, £14.2million had been funded by a Government grant and the remainder obtained via Council Tax., ie 65% funded by Government Grant.  Therefore, when grants were cut, there was an impact, especially where there were deprived wards such as Jaywick (being the most deprived area in the country), and there were other depressed areas in Tendring where problems needed to be sorted out.  He explained that housing revenue was self-financing, and capital expenditure was funded from a variety of sources: grants, revenue, borrowing or licensing.  He stated that when comparing the 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 budgets, the Council Tax levy for a Band D property in 2011/2012 was half a percent less than 2010/2011.

 

Then he explained how the Council Tax bill was made up: 10% to District Council, 74.5% to Essex County Council, other authorities taking 2% (Parishes), 4.5% (Fire Service) and 9% (Police Service); and the system to draw up the financial strategy:  Officers mapping out the figures, looking at proposals, what services were needed, removing budgets that were ‘one-offs’, allowing for inflation and taking into account those additional costs that might rise, in order to identify costs for the next financial year.  As Officers may not actually make the right judgement as to the likelihood of additional costs arising, there were reserves and figures were reviewed throughout the process.  He stated that they tried to maximise income and identify potential savings.  Officers calculate the figures and Members then decide on the budget.

 

He pointed out that this year there would be a saving in concessionary fares as the service was to be run by ECC: last year this involved expenditure of £1.4 million, but the Government had now taken the grant away.  Also, they had budgeted last year for a salary increase for staff which had not arisen and would not be arising this year. 

 

Then he clarified how, following the Government’s Spending Review,, the Government grant for TDC was changing with firm figures for the first 2-3 years and then indications only: in 2011 - £10.9 million, in 2012 - £9.6 million, a reduction of  24% by 2012/2013, and another 10% reduction by 2014/15.  Although quite a few savings had already been made, there was still more to do, but issues affecting budgets would be the recession as it impacted on the Council’s income because people would not be spending, there would be difficulty collecting Council Tax, low interest rates, energy costs increasing, options for external funding being reduced, and inflation – although big contracts were based on a fixed price, they could include inflation increases.  What they were left with was a 2011/2012 budget which had been agreed together with more savings, but they still needed to save another £2 million by 2013/14. 

 

He continued by saying that looking ahead, there were are also going to be wide changes to Local Government responsibilities, including changes to Benefits’ administration, and the possibility that Council Tax benefits wwould be self-funded in the area; this was an issue which needed to be addressed and the impact was not known.  He stated that another issue was whether, or not, business rates would be retained by the local authority as the main source of funding.  If so, additional Government support might be needed because Tendring was not a big business area.

 

Q: When making decisions on cuts for support groups, are any contingency plans considered to help to cover the shortfall as people may fall by the wayside?

A:  As the election is on Thursday, I can only comment on the factual position, and that is that there is support for local voluntary groups.  Although individual grant budgets have been cut, £500,000 has been set aside within the “Big Society” budget.

 

A member added that she knew that this Government had given money to India and Pakistan, and she felt that people should write to their MPs complaining about this.  The Chairman commented that this was inappropriate for this meeting as the FRA was an apolitical organisation.

 

The Chairman thanked JS for providing the presentation, and stated on behalf of residents that we were looking for Councillors to work together for the good of the residents of Frinton in order that we can protect, enhance and maintain our wonderful environment.

 

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With regard to the enhancement of Connaught Avenue, the Chairman pointed out that we were fortunate that the project had gone ahead which had only been possible because the finance had been split over three financial years.  She knew that concern had been expressed over the paving stones becoming marked and this had been brought to the attention of the Project Group which has been monitoring this enhancement.  Cleaning had been spoken about, and the contractors would be carrying this out and applying treatment before it was handed over.  The Chamber of Commerce has raised the notion that each shop should be responsible for cleaning their part of the pavement so that it is kept spick and span.  At the next Project Board meeting, this issue would be raised.

 

She also pointed out that information had been received from the contractors regarding two overnight closures: Monday, 16 and Tuesday, 17 May 2011 when planing out operations would take place from 1730 hours to 0600 hours on the following day.  Re-surfacing would be taking place on Wednesday, 18 May from 0700 hours until 2000 hours and in the bell mouths (junctions) on Thursday, 19 May from 1800 hours until 0600 hours on Friday, 20 May.  Pedestrian access would be available during the day and special arrangements would be made for crossing the road.

 

Q: Will the path be cleaned after the road is re-surfaced?

A: (Chairman)  I will make sure that point is made at the next Project Board meeting.
At the Project Meeting held on 3 June 2011, it was confirmed that the paving will be steam cleaned.  However, no treatment will be applied as believed previously.  It is understood that normal rainfall will clean the slabs in future.

 

Q: Can something be done about the pigeons making a mess?

A:  (Chairman)  That is not the responsibility of the contactor, but I will put it on the Agenda for our next meeting with the Town Council.
We have been informed that controlling pigeons is the responsibility of owners/landlords of properties/shops in Connaught Avenue. Therefore, we will be raising this issue with the Chamber of Commerce.

 

A Committee member expressed the view that he believed the company had carried out a first-class job using first-class materials.  He hoped that the re-surfacing would be to the same standard and everyone agreed.

 

The Chairman pointed out that because of a fall in cost, higher quality materials had been used than originally ordered, and she agreed that the staff had worked hard, including Katarina Simpson, the Customer Liaison Officer.

 

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The Chairman reported on information received from the Chairman of  “Ontrack” Rail Users Association who had achieved success in obtaining timetable changes: a new late night train to Clacton leaving Liverpool Street at 11.18 pm (no connection yet for the Walton line) and a new connection for the weekday train departing 10.18pm from Liverpool Street to Clacton.  The Rail Users Association AGM was to take place on 20 May 2011 from 7.30 pm in the Methodist Church Hall.

 

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Ron Hutton, Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator, reported that from crime statistics received from Essex Police, Great Bentley was in the lead with nil crime figures, Frinton came in second lowest and Clacton had the worst figures in the area.  Unfortunately, he felt that apathy ruled and asked everyone to keep an eye on how their neighbours were getting on as there were only approximately 85 small local areas were covered by the Neighbourhood Watch Scheme.  He explained that EEC Highways now controlled erection of Neighbourhood Watch signs, and they had decided to put them up free of charge.  However, despite the fact that there were over 35 new Neighbourhood Watches in the area, only 4 new signs had been erected in 2011.  He asked anyone interested in receiving further information, or setting up a Neighbourhood Watch in their area, to contact him at the end of the meeting.

 

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Q: Is it possible for more litterbins to be placed on the Greensward because I have seen them overflowing by tea time?

A: (Councillor David Lines) There are approximately 1,000 litterbins in Tendring and around 500 dog litterbins.  I would like to suggest that visitors take their litter home, but I will take the message back to the District Council.
In the current economic climate, it is unlikely that the Council will provide extra bins. However, it has been confirmed by Environmental Services that bins on the Promenade (including the Walings) and on the Esplanade are emptied from 1 May to end of September and throughout the two weeks of Easter, twice daily, and three times a week throughout the rest of the year. Regular patrols take place during the summer to check on bins and arrange additional emptying if required.

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Q: Who is responsible for opening and closing the barriers restricting vehicular access to The Leas as a lot of cars are going down onto the Promenade at peak times?

A: (Chairman) TDC are responsible for Beach and Promenade maintenance.  In the past I have found the personnel very helpful, and until recently, we have been successful in ensuring these are locked during peak times.  We will ask if TDC could deal with this more efficiently and ensure that the barriers are locked/closed when they should be.  The gates should be closed over the Easter holiday and from 1 May. 
The FRA have written to the Head of Leisure Services at Tendring District Council regarding the dangers if these gates are not locked at the times stated on the Notice Boards and it has been noted that they are now being locked. Councillors have also promised to keep an eye on the situation.

 

Councillor Robert Bucke stated that he shared the same concerns.  He had noticed that a shop-keeper on the Walton end of the Promenade was opening the gates and he had reported this.

 

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Q: I am concerned about health and safety when kite boarders are using the Greensward as they appear to have a monopoly.

A: (Chairman)  This is a question which has been raised in other forums and there are differing views on this.  Some people see it as an interesting pastime bringing in young people.  We need to find out what the local position is, whether the health and safety implications have been investigated,  and whether they are taking over part of the Greensward, not allowing other people to use it.  There is also the question of whether it is a commercial enterprise.  We will investigate and supply more information.
The FRA has been informed that this activity is not being carried out commercially, and that the Greensward should be available to be enjoyed by all. The fact that kite boarders only use The Greensward when there are high winds in the right direction, and few people about, means that the danger to others is minimised.

 

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Q: I understand the No 13 bus service is now only going to operate until 2 pm instead of 4pm?

A: (Chairman)  We are constantly discussing bus services with Councillors and other Residents’ Associations, but over the last two years we have had no success in our negotiations with bus companies, or even getting them to listen to our concerns.  The difficulty is that it is a commercial situation and bus companies will not run routes where they are losing money.  ECC does give funding to certain bus routes and we do raise this question at our meetings with them.  Bus companies are very hard, but we will pick up this issue and do our best.
In the current economic climate, it is unlikely that ECC will subsidize any further bus routes. However, the FRA will continue to press for improvements to services.

 

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David Foster reported that on 14 May 2011, the launch of Frinton in Bloom would be taking place in the Station Cottage Garden during the Frinton & Walton Heritage May Fair.  Then on 12 July 2011, the judging for Anglia in Bloom was to take place, and the Tatton Park event was being held on 16 July after which the Frinton entry might be shown by the BBC.  He pointed out that he had a display in the hall which included the new rockery garden at The Walings and the design for Tatton Park.

 

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Q: What are the FRA doing about the proposal to build a Tesco store in Walton?  Personally, we have reduced our food bill by 25% by shopping in Frinton; we have lovely shops in Connaught Avenue and at The Triangle.  Tesco are only going to build in Walton for their own benefit.  I understand that the FRA has been very quiet about this because they feel there is a 50% split on whether the application should be supported or not.  This development will affect all the businesses in the area.  Do we really need to see any more empty shops?  I believe we should try to keep the town as it is.

 

The Chairman clarified the current state of play by stating that the Committee had discussed this issue having seen the exhibition, etc, and had felt  (i) that it was more a Walton decision and (ii) straw polls had indicated that the view in Frinton was 50/50.  Therefore, the Committee decided at that time that we would not take a definitive position.  She reported that Frinton & Walton Chamber of Commerce have stated that they are against the Tesco proposal, but they would be in favour of the new proposal for the development of the Mere.  She asked if now was the time for a show of hands to indicate members’ views.

 

A Committee member stated that he thought that attention should be given to the Tesco proposal prior to the Walton Mere if objections were to be made.  The former proposal to build a Tesco store near the roundabout outside the barriers had been objected to because of the traffic problems in that location.  However, he stressed that you had to have sound reasons for objecting and these needed to be found.

 

The Chairman reported that at the Frinton and Walton Town Council meeting held on Thursday, 28 April 2011, the decision on the Tesco planning application had been deferred, but that it would be picked up again on 12 May 2011.  A member pointed out that the decision had been deferred by Frinton & Walton Town Council because the application did not contain enough detail.

 

Q: I believe the same objection applies to the Tesco proposal in Walton with regard to danger/traffic problems as it did to the proposal to build a store just outside the barriers in Walton Road, Frinton, ie it would result in more traffic on Kirby and Walton roads, and it would be situated on a dangerous bend.

A: Traffic access was the main reason for objecting given by the Kirby Residents’ Association.

 

Q: There is already a Tesco store in Walton, another one in Thorpe, and another one in Clacton.  Is there going to be a hole in Walton High Street (where there is currently a Tesco store) if this proposal goes ahead?

A: There is a Tesco Express in Walton.

 

Ron Hutton pointed out that a Tesco proposal had had a disastrous impact on the FRA 10 years ago, and some discussion took place on whether or not the FRA should object to the application for a Tesco store to be built in Walton.

 

Q:  Does this proposal to object include the proposed development of Walton Mere?

A:  This purely covers the Tesco situation as no planning proposal has yet been received for the Mere.

 

A vote then took place on whether the FRA Committee should look into whether there was sufficient criteria to raise objections.  After a show of hands (37 for, 0 against and 8 abstentions) it was decided that the FRA would carry out further investigation.

As requested, further discussions took place during the May Committee meeting on whether or not the FRA should raise objections to the proposal for a Tesco store to be built in Walton. After it was pointed out that this was a Walton issue and that the views of Frinton residents were split fifty/fifty for and against the development, it was agreed that the Association should remain neutral. However, it was decided that a letter be written to Tendring District Council Planning Department asking for in-depth surveys on increased traffic density, parking implications and environmental impacts to be carried out, and considered fully, before decisions were made on this proposal.

 

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