Winter Weather – Salt Bag Scheme
We have had to cope with a number of days where transport was difficult due to snow. Essex County Council did quite well with the gritting programme and the main roads were largely cleared and remained open during the worst of the snow and ice.
This year we had got organised with the local Salt Bag Scheme and I would like to thank the village volunteers who came forward and offered to take some bags in to look after stretches of road by their properties. As this has been a new initiative we need to evaluate how useful the scheme proved to be and we will look to improve and expand the number of locations where salt can help.
The scheme works by Essex County Council delivering a pallet of 20kg bags and the Parish Council drops off bags to the volunteers to store until needed. With summer in prospect it is difficult to think about next winter but I would ask that residents who live next to areas that were affected badly by the snow to join the scheme. If you think you can help please contact the Parish Council.
Potholes and Road Damage
A consequence of the bad weather is that we now have a lot of potholes and road damage that need repair. This is a massive task for Essex County Council and they have a programme of repairs underway but clearly it will take a considerable time to get the whole county’s roads repaired.
May I remind residents that they can report potholes and other road problems direct to Essex County Council by either the internet or on the telephone. The web address is http://www.essexhighways.org or you can telephone on 0845 603 7631
We have had to make a modest increase in the precept for Mountnessing for the first time in three years. The income derived from the Council Tax has been affected by the new arrangements for council tax benefits that I mentioned in the last issue. The scheme reduces our precept income by a percentage to reflect discounts given to working age claimants. Strangely we suffer the most out of all the parishes as our income will be reduced by 11% which amounts to around £1,500 a year. This is a significant amount of money for us to lose and although the government will paid a grant in the next financial year to reduce this to about a £100 loss we are concerned for future years if this grant should be withdrawn and we will suffer the full loss. We will be keeping a close eye on this and bringing matter to the attention of village resident, Mr Eric Pickles MP, who is responsible for Local Government Finance.
Children’s Play Area
I am pleased to report that three new benches have been installed in the play area. These benches are made from recycled plastic and should need no maintenance. I am sure that adults will appreciate having somewhere to sit whilst their children enjoy themselves on the play equipment. I would like to thank Borough Councillor Noelle Hones as she covered the cost for them out of the special funds that are allocated to Ward Councillors to help with local projects. She has also funded a new gate at the Water Meadows to replace the old one which was broken and insecure.
We felt that we should do one more project for the play area and that is to add another set of swings. At present the swings have one small child seat and one straight seat which is not really suitable as mixing age groups together can be difficult from a safety point of view. We are therefore looking at building a separate group of swings just for toddlers to keep the two swing sets separate. The existing swings will both have straight seats for the older children to play on. We will again have to chase grants to help us do them but we have been very successful with gaining funding for our projects and our community has done very well over the last few years.
The All Weather Court Project
I am pleased to report that again we have been successful in winning the funding needed to progress this project. We have received £10,000 from the Essex County Council Big Society Fund and a further £3,500 from the Essex Environmental Trust. We hope to get the work underway in April in order to get the court into use this summer.
As I explained in the last issue the court will not be left unlocked but it will be available to the public on a pay and play basis. The Tennis Club will have a block booking and the Parish Council has decided that all income derived will be ring fenced in our accounts and the funds will only be used for the upkeep and maintenance of the court to ensure it never falls into disrepair again.
Coronation Play Fields Drainage
This year we have noticed that the field is not draining in certain areas and this is causing us some concern. The football pitch is quite boggy in some parts and we are worried that the pitch will get torn up in use which will lead to problems for other park users. We understand that part of the problem is that water gets trapped in the top levels of the ground due to compacting and that the soil has to be loosened up to allow the water to soak away. To have proper land drainage carried out is very expensive, over £10,000 which would be out of our reach without help.
I would be grateful if any of our residents can suggest a cheaper option to help resolve this problem. If you can help please contact me on 354536
We took over the administration of the allotments last April on behalf of the English Charity. We were keen to help develop the site and to encourage more local people to take on a plot to increase a healthy outdoor pursuit and improve wellbeing. Sadly we have suffered with continued flooding on the site due in part to the very wet weather we have had but also drainage issues. We are working with W S Atkins, who is the contractor for the Highways Agency, to try and sort out the drains which are under the A12. Hopefully some drainage clearance work can be arranged to help solve the flooding problems but it is not straightforward as there are no records of the surface water drainage system in this area.
We decided that a solution would be to clear the overgrown area at the top of the site to create a number of new plots which would allow the holders of the flooded plots to move and also to have a number of new plots available for letting. We had to again resort to getting grant help and I am pleased to report that we were awarded £1,500 from the Brentwood Share Fund and £1,000 from the Essex County Council Big Society Fund. Apart from the clearance and ground preparation there will be a new fence installed. We will ensure that the street scene is unaffected as the green screening at the top of the site will remain.
If you are interested in renting a new plot speak to Ash Hofert on 07506885480 - after 6pm or Weekends please. Preference will be given to Mountnessing residents in the first instance.
Mountnessing Countryfile Article
Our local farmers have in the last few editions kindly written articles about agriculture in Mountnessing in the present day. A number of people have mentioned how interesting they have found these articles and in this edition we continue with the series with two residents telling us a little about what farming was like in the past and how the industry has changed. I would like to thank both John Vivers and Jim Roberts for their interesting contributions. If any reader, who has lived in Mountnessing for a long time, would like to tell us about aspects of village life in the past, not necessarily connected with farming, would they please contact Ian on 352237.
Could I ask once again for dog walkers to clear up after their dogs please? I have talked to many of our residents who walk dogs on the green and they are all very responsible owners who do clear up. I do feel that the culprits are among the many people who visit our park areas to exercise their dogs.Brentwoodhas a dog warden who can be contacted on 01277 312516 if you wish to report irresponsible owners.
Karl Afteni, Chairman, Mountnessing Parish Council