Grapevine Report


It certainly is good to have the Grapevine back, thanks to Mel and her fellow volunteers for making it possible. The Parish Council have continued to be very busy over the last four months as you will see below. For two months power was devolved to the clerk to make decisions in consultation with three councillors as we were unable to hold meetings. In April we held our first virtual Finance Committee meeting followed on by full council meetings in June and July. There will be no Full council meeting in August, but from then on they will continue to be held on the first Tuesday of the month at 7.30pm and members of the public are most welcome, please email the Parish Clerk for an invitation to attend.

I would like to extend a special thank you to our Parish Clerk, Line Djuve-Wood. Line has been with us for seven months now and has worked tirelessly throughout this time of extraordinary circumstances, providing solid support and guidance to the council.

When lockdown began the Parish Council alongside St Lawrence and the Methodist Churches organised a Bradfield support group in conjunction with Sharon Robinson's Manningtree Shoutout Facebook page. Plenty of volunteers come forward, but none were ever called upon. Nearly all requests for assistance came through Sharon and the majority of these were for prescription collections. The fact that there were so few requests for assistance is testament to how well Bradfield residents pulled together to support their friends and neighbours throughout the crisis. Both groups have now been closed.

The play equipment is now open again, please read the new Covid-19 signs carefully before using the equipment.

Traffic and roads
Concerns were raised by a resident about recent accidents and near misses at the junction of Wix Road and Heath Road due vehicles taking the corner at high speed. The rapid response of County Cllr Carlo Guglielmi and Tom Eng at Highways, have resulted in two proposals to extend the footway into the road to create more of a corner which should cause vehicles to slow. The cost for either option will be approximately £12,500 for design and implementation. This information will now be updated on the Schemes Awaiting Funding list for the Local Highways Panel to consider funding at the next meeting in September.

Throughout the lockdown many residents have complained about cars and motorcycles using the local roads as race tracks, a particular area of concern is the Junction of Steam Mill Road and Straight Road where there have also been near misses and reports of speeding vehicles.
The Council are looking into installing four of the 'village gate' style signs that you see in the neighbouring villages. The proposal is that these are installed at the entrances to the village; Wix Road; Windmill Road and Steam Mill Road - neither of these sites have a village sign; and one to replace the existing sign on the B1352 outside Emsworth House.

Station Road Bench
We have replaced this once again, this time with a very sturdy new bench from Realise Futures, this is the same organisation that manufactured the bus shelters and is made from recycled plastic. Please enjoy the views.

Trees and Memorial
The council have agreed that the avenue of trees along The Street outside the recreation ground will be dedicated to the 75th anniversary of VE and VJ day. Alongside these trees will be a stone memorial with the possible inscription "These trees were planted by the people of Bradfield in 2020 to mark the anniversary of VE & VJ Day", or "On the 75th Anniversary of VE and VJ Day 2020. Dedicated to all victims of war, everywhere - Trees Planted and Stone Erected by The Community of Bradfield" If you have a suggestion as to what you might like to see written on the memorial, then please contact the Parish Clerk.

Telephone Kiosk at the Stranger's Home
The Parish council have been chasing BT to renovate the telephone kiosk (a listed building) for well over a year now without success. It has now been agreed that Councillor Osbourne will lead a group of volunteers to renovate the kiosk at the council's expense. Brenda Wells (the Lockdown Library lady) has volunteered to run a book exchange from the kiosk once the works have been completed

County Broadband
The Parish Council have been in contact with County Broadband after the issues recently with the first phase of their broadband network build. They have acknowledged that their contractor failed to properly communicate the planned works to affected residents and have put measures in place for the next phase of works. These include better road signage, letters to all residents and a site supervisor to monitor the work closely.

We are now in direct contact with their build team and customer services manager, who have committed to providing us with details of any future work so we can make sure residents are aware of their plans.

We have persuaded County to provide free broadband to both the Village Hall and the Methodist Hall, so any groups hiring those will have access to hyper-fast internet.

Due to corrosion at its base we have had to have one of the streetlights on Heath Road cut down to ensure the safety of passer-by, this will in time be replaced at a cost of around £3000.

Planning Matters
Application 19/01937/FUL, Fieldley House, Steam Mill Road - Alterations and improvements to the existing two storey dwelling, formation of a private drive and the erection of three bungalows with associated parking facilities, was refused by Tendring District Council in June.

Verge Cutting
In mid-May at the height of spring, the 'verges' in and around Bradfield were cut by Essex Highways. Considerable damage was done to Mill Lane, Cansey Lane, Dairy House Lane and the Southern side of Steam Mill Road. Whilst we understand that there are some areas that require verges to be cut for safety reasons, the majority do not.

Verges are the few remaining wildlife habitats left since all the other available space has been taken up by new housing or arable farming, these are both pretty much ecological deserts. Verges provide food and habitats for invertebrates, butterflies and their lava, voles and birds. In fact, the majority of the turtledove's (Britain's most endangered bird) diet is weed seed. There is a nesting pair of turtle doves in Cansey Lane. We think most people would agree that verges full of poppies, tansy, mallow, cow parsley, dandelions, daisies, plantains, knapweed, vetch, birds foot trefoil, many assorted grasses and cereals, nettle etc. are much more pleasing to look at than brown stubble and patches of earth.

Verges can also play a vital part in carbon capture whilst reducing the use of large vehicles with cutting equipment to cut the verges along hundreds of miles of verges will greatly reduce emissions and reduce costs to councils.

The Parish Clerk has written to Tendring District Council and Essex Highways to ask them to look at greatly reducing the areas that are cut and that careful planning goes into the locations and time of year that verge cutting takes place.

Suffolk, Coast & Heaths AONB
On the 7th of July, the Secretary of State confirmed the extension to the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB to include additional areas along the southern edge of the Stour estuary in Tendring, Essex and two beautiful small river valleys, the Samford Valley and the Freston Brook in Babergh District, Suffolk. The move sees the AONB expand by around 38 square kilometres, taking in a rich tapestry of attractive river valleys, ancient woodland, reed beds, wildlife-rich estuaries, and windswept beaches. The area includes the Stour estuary - one of the most important wildlife estuaries in Europe and of international importance for wildfowl and waders.

When visiting the Bradfield beach, please ensure that dogs are kept on leads and that you take all your litter home with you. One family from Bradfield, recently cleared 11kg of litter from the beach and surrounding area. Whilst some of the rubbish was washed or blown ashore, a great deal of it had been left by visitors

Litter Pick
We are planning to hold another litter pick on Saturday 3rd of October, we will meet at 9:30am in the Village Hall car park for a 10am start, we look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible!

The Finance Committee had its first meeting on the 5th May 2020 which was held virtually. It had been reported that over the 2019/20 year the council had an income of £82,616.72, an increase of £11,687.31 from the previous year, with the majority due to S106 funding received. Gross expenditure was £64,408.34, an increase of £11,546.72 from the previous year mainly due to increased capital expenditure. The council's year-end balance brought forward to the 2020/21 financial year was £78,217.33, an increase of £18,208.38 from the previous year. The VAT to be reclaimed for 2019/20 is £7,691.92. The clerk had noted that the VAT from 2018/19 had not been reclaimed last year, which adds an additional £4,813.58 to be reclaimed along with this year's figure. In addition, the current asset register and insurance schedule had been reviewed. The council have since accepted the three-year quotation for the Insurance from CAS of £1,198.68 per annum.

Councillor Vacancies
There are currently two vacancies on the council; if you would like to contribute to the running of village amenities; how the precept is spent and if you can spare a couple of hours a month (more if you like), then please contact the Clerk and register your interest. Full training is available with the EALC. We are a friendly bunch who would welcome your input.

Kreon Wynn
Chairman of Bradfield Parish Council

The report can be downloaded in PDF format here.