Chairman’s Report (extracted from the Spring 2014 edition of the Mountnessing Vilage News – contact the Clerk for a copy).

Housing Needs Survey
Inside this issue you will find a Housing Needs Survey that the Parish Council is carrying out. It is important for us to understand the type and tenure of properties that our residents and their families might need in the coming years and unless we know what is needed we cannot make representations to ensure that any developments of new housing address the requirements of our residents first.

Please take the time to fill the form in and return it to us as directed as we need to understand the community housing needs of the future. This could be affordable homes for young adults, smaller one bedroomed properties for those downsizing and bigger homes for those needing more accommodation.

Could you please return the form by the 20th April.

George Read
I sadly have to report the passing of George Read, our longest standing Parish Councillor. George joined the Parish Council in 1995 and he was part of a team from the Parish and the Church that rescued St. John’s church hall, the tin church as it is known. The funds were raised and the building was refurbished and brought into use for hiring to small community groups and it has been very successful and well used. As well as being a parish councillor George stayed on and served as treasurer for St. Johns up to about a year ago. He also was a school Governor for the Village School for a period. George always took a keen interest in planning issues considered by the Parish and always gave fair and constructive comments on each application.

Speaking to former Chairman, Richard Allen, David Gottesman and David Fisher they all commended George for his loyal service to the parish. It is testament to George that despite not being very well he attended his last Parish Council meeting shortly before he passed away. All of us on the Parish Council would like to extend our sincere condolences to Diane and the family.

Winter Weather and Storm Damage
The stormy weather we have had this winter has caused damage throughout the parish to trees, fences and properties. Sadly in the big storm last year we lost two of the tall pine trees on the recreation ground which snapped off about 12 foot off the ground. Our contractors had to use heavy lifting gear to remove the remains which took a day and a half. More recently we had a willow tree blow over in Roman Road close to the Plough which took out the power line and a number of homes were left without electricity for eight hours.

The playing fields have been saturated by the excessive rain we have had and although we had planned to have some drainage works done in the autumn the ground became too wet too quickly to do this. We will now have to reconsider how we will take this project forward and we might have to wait until next autumn now.

A number of community volunteers took in salt bags to use in case we had snow and ice under the Essex County Council Salt Bag Scheme. Due to the warmer, but wetter winter there has been no need to us the salt that has been distributed so we do not intend to re-stock for next winter.

Children’s Play Area and Recreation Ground
The final phase of our playground improvements has been carried out now. We have had a new set of toddler swings installed with safety matting under and the existing swings are now both for older children and have new seats, chains and fixings. The roundabout was taken up and had all new bolts fitted where necessary. The centre spindle was dug out of the ground and reset 10cm lower so that we now comply with Health and Safety recommendations on ground clearance. We have also had safety matting installed around the static play engine and as well as being safer it will hopefully keep the little ones out of the mud in the winter. We were again fortunate to secure grant funding and about eighty percent of the cost of this work was covered by a grant from the Essex County Council Community Initiatives fund. Many thanks to ECC.

Following last summer’s incursion we have had defence work carried out on the boundary and access points to the recreation ground. Steel posts have been set up around the perimeter of the field behind the existing wooden knee fences. A new barrier gate has also been installed on the track up to the Windmill. Whilst we cannot prevent a determined assault using power cutters, we hope that this new security will be sufficient to deter further opportunist trespass.

New Benches Church Road Green
The existing benches were giving us some concerns as the metal frames were corroded and seen a potential risk. Our Borough Councillors have special funding called Ward Budgets to help with local community projects and we were grateful to be given £1000 towards the replacement of these benches and the static play engine safety matting mentioned above. The new benches have now been installed and these are made from recycled plastic which means they should give years of maintenance free service. We would like to thank our Borough Councillors for allocating the funding to us.

Bus Shelter Review
We were disappointed by the response to our bus shelter review as we had only one letter from a resident. We have carried out a condition survey and agreed to allocate funding to carry out a repairs and maintenance programme on all the existing shelters. The only exception is the shelter by Roman Close where we are seeking funding from Essex County Council to replace and reposition the existing structure for a shelter that is better suited to the site. We are also looking at what can be done to get a shelter for the stop on the Brentwood bound side of the road by The Plough.

The wet weather has caused many new potholes to develop in our local roads. It would be most helpful if residents could report potholes that are of concern to them. It is a very straightforward process entering an online report on the Essex CC website. You can use the link on this website’s home page and uploading a picture with your report helps in deciding priority. They can also be reported by telephone on 0845 6037631.

New Councillors Required
We are now carrying two vacancies for Parish Councillors and we would like to hear from those interested in serving the community. It is important to be an internet user as most of our business is done using e-mail and we try to operate with minimal use of paper. Please contact the Parish Clerk if you are interested.

Lost and Found
A silver plated man’s bracelet was handed in to us and we would like to get it back to its owner. It has initials engraved on it and if you think it might be yours please contact the Parish Clerk on 352237.

Karl Afteni
Mountnessing Parish Council