Environment 6.1.21

MINUTES of Environment Committee meeting held virtually on 6 January 2021 at 7.30pm Chair Approved

Present: Cllr Evans (Chair), Cllr Tile, Cllr Maltby, Cllr Wenaden, Cllr Needham, Cllr Luxford-Vaughan, J Beighton-Emms (Town Clerk) and 2 members of the public

Public Questions; None.

PART A

E/01.21/01 Apologies for absence: None

E/01.21/02 Declarations of interest: None

E/01.21/03 Minutes of the meeting held on 4 November 2020; The minutes of this meeting were proposed by Cllr Wenaden, seconded by Cllr Maltby and approved by all as an accurate record of proceedings.

E/01.21/04 Update from the Chair

Cllr Evans reported that he:

I. is in contact with PC Paul Rawson about policing of the river and was
planning to liaise further with Steve Collis, CBC, the Brightlingsea Harbourmaster and Wivenhoe Sailing Club;

II. has been invited to speak at the Eco Colchester Festival in July 2021;

III. was progressing work on the new sign for the trail;

IV. will be writing an article for Wivenhoe News with Cllr Maltby about the E-Cargo bikes and the recycling project. Cllr Wenaden suggested that the committee makes more use of the council noticeboards with posters about these and other projects.And that;

V. the Millfield verge project was complete, aside from spring planting.

E/01.21/05 Proposal by Cllr Evans; Green Spaces & Verges Project

The committee considered a previously circulated report drafted by Mark Halladay
(‘MH’) which is attached as Appendix A.

Cllr Tile said that it occurred to him that the project outcome would be to take a long
established environment and change it and the committee should consider human
usage as well as the existing flora and fauna. He would like to know what research had
been done on potentially destroying an existing environment. By encouraging growth of
one species we might destroy another, such as by planting gorse on the dog walking
area at the KGV.

Cllr Evans responded that these are valid points and in his view the project would allow
for biodiversity already on the areas to reemerge and that the group plan to get a
botanist on board. For larger areas, there would be public consultation.

MH explained that he had accepted the suggestion from Cllr Tile that the idea to
plant brambles to provide a barrier at the perimeter on the dog walking area had been
dropped. The areas on the KGV in the scheme will only affect existing grass.

The assessment of areas had been carried out in 2020 and this is a conservation
exercise not a horticultural one. Most of the proposed areas are good quality. On the
KGV the Estates (Open Spaces) Manager has proposed that a wildflower area is sown
alongside the footpath, with an area of native growth behind it, with pathways created
which will allow for access to the houses backing onto the KGV. Cllr Tile noted that this
was previously parkland.

Cllr Evans proposed that Wivenhoe Town Council adopt the Green Spaces & Verges
Project as set out in the reports drafted by Mark Halladay.

He confirmed that public consultation would constitute leaflet drops to neighbouring
properties and an offer of a meeting with him or Mark to discuss any queries from
residents. A timescale for responses would be set. Cllr Luxford-Vaughan suggested that
as well as direct, contact posters could be put up on the noticeboards and we gather
feedback from those, ensuring that if most residents are against the project that we must
take note. One-to-one discussion certainly helps.

Cllr Evans said that the only cost would be for seeds for £200, which would be covered
by a Locality Budget.

Cllr Tile said whilst he appreciated that the project was low cost to start with, when the
areas on the KGV needed to be mown we should use a cut and collect mower which will
cost approximately £12,000. Also, that the group must properly plan and address any
potential risks as well as monitoring and reporting, which was not done previously.

MH said that leaving the cut grass would not be a major issue – it could be scythed,
dried with the seeds then left. Volunteers could carry this out.

Cllr Maltby seconded the proposal. All councillors voted in favour, with the exception of
Cllr Tile, who voted against and requested that his vote was recorded.

E/01.21/06 CBC Grants; These will be discussed at the next meeting of the Funding, Youth & Engagement Working Group.

E/01.21/07 Health & Wellbeing Update; Cllr Wenaden reported on the vaccination program and that she was waiting on further information about local hubs. Cllr Luxford-Vaughan said that she would share information from CBC as soon as she could. It was agreed with regards to information sharing on the council website, Facebook page and noticeboards, that all sources would be verified as official and that any updates/posts to be shared by the town council will be done so through the Town Clerk. Cllr Tile noted that we must ensure that we make it clear that the council isn’t offering services but is acting as a facilitator for information.

On 4 January Cllr Wenaden had met with the Town Clerk and Cllr Evans and agreed to
conduct a wellbeing survey, which was previously circulated and is attached
as Appendix B.

Cllr Tile suggested that similar studies on the effects of lockdowns had been carried out
on prisoners. Cllr Wenaden said that lockdowns affect people in different ways and
caused different mental health issues.

Cllr Luxford-Vaughan was concerned that a respondent might say, for example, that
they were suicidal and how would we deal with that information.
It was agreed that a list of appropriate agencies and charities would be added to the
bottom of the survey. Cllr Evans said this could be obtained from the Wivenhoe
Foodbank.

Cllr Wenaden reported on her idea for a virtual retreat to include sessions on, for
example, mindfulness; this would be set up using the available budget. Cllr Luxford-
Vaughan said that Tendring Council are holding parenting, mental health and wellbeing
courses and she could pass on the resource pack. She also suggested that Cllr
Wenaden contacts the course organiser for assistance, as whilst the virtual retreat was
a great idea it needed a lot of planning.

Cllr Wenaden reported that she would be meeting soon with the newly appointed mental
health worker based at Wivenhoe Surgery.

Cllr Maltby suggested a separate meeting to discuss potential projects using the
available budget for 2020/21.Cllr Evans agreed and said that a meeting could be called
before the next committee meeting, if ideas were shared.

Cllr Maltby suggested that Wivenhoe Town Council could sign up to a plastic pledge,
as has been done by CBC. This could be set out in council policy. She said that she will
come up with a suitable proposal for the next committee meeting. The council are
already considering which products they use, such as cleaning products, and replacing
them with more eco friendly ones. Cllr Tile asked for details of amounts and products
used.

Cllr Maltby asked the committee to consider a tree/bush planting initiative, which has
recently been done in Brightlingsea. The difficulties posed by the current lockdown were
considered. Cllr Evans reported that the Estates (Open Spaces) Manager had recently
planted 180 trees obtained from CBC. It was agreed that this would be a long term
project.MH said that he would be happy to consider possible locations and report back
to the committee.

E/01.21/08 Date and time of the next meeting; It was agreed that the next meeting would
be held virtually at 7.30pm on Wednesday 3 March 2021.

MH thanked the committee for supporting the Green Spaces and Verges Project.

The Chair closed the meeting at 21.05.

 

Appendix A

Wivenhoe Town Council December Environment Committee 6th Jan 2021

Nature restoration pilots (“mini-meadows”)
in Wivenhoe’s green spaces, 2021-2024

Proposal

Wivenhoe nature restoration project is a 3 year evaluated pilot to allow selected green spaces in the town to grow unmown between March and September. It is a collaboration between the Town and Borough Councils, Wivenhoe Biodiversity Group and the people of Wivenhoe.

The project is a response to the continuing and critical decline of biodiversity in the UK. It follows Wivenhoe Town Council’s 2019 declaration of a climate and biodiversity emergency.

Objectives of the proposals

1. To enhance native biodiversity, especially of native wildflowers and pollinating insects;
2. To diversify and enhance visual amenity in the urban and residential environment;
3. To increase public engagement in nature restoration and recovery;
4. To make Wivenhoe an exemplar site for other Councils within the Borough.

Features of the proposals

i) Proposed management regime of selected green spaces:
● Adopt a regime of “no mow” between March and September;
● Mow as required in the autumn/winter months on a “cut & collect” basis to reduce the fertility of the soil and suppress more vigorous, coarser grasses.

ii) Public engagement:
Public engagement will be in two stages:
● general publicity about the proposals inviting comments about the principle of this type of nature restoration (currently underway), and
● site specific consultation with immediate neighbours and users of the sites as they join the scheme (these will take place in February after WTC approval).
Comments, queries or concerns during the pilots will be followed up by Cllr Evans and Biodiversity Group volunteers.

iii) Evaluation:
The projects will be evaluated throughout. The Biodiversity Group will monitor biodiversity impact at all the sites; public acceptability will be monitored by comments received by the two Councils; operational feasibility will be monitored by CBC and their contractors and by WTC workforce. An annual evaluation report will be presented to the Town Council.

 

The Proposals: the KGV and other green spaces

1) The KGV scheme consists of maintaining the existing lower meadow area and unmown North margin, and
● planting two islands of gorse and broom in the dog walking area;
● leaving a corner strip between the western edge oak tree and the laurels of the skate park to develop as native meadow;
● develop a mixed meadow of seeded wildflower and native growth on the Eastern margin between the main path and the boundary with de Vere Lane houses, preserving access paths for residents.

Cost implications of KGV plan:

Staff time for seeding beds: x1 day of WTC staff
Seed costs: £150 for 5kg British native wildflower mix
8 gorse and broom plants £50
Funding is being sought from sources other than WTC in the first instance.

Site specific public engagement: A letter to de Vere residents whose properties back on to the Eastern boundary will explain the changes in advance. Interpretive notices will be put in place to explain the changes.

2) The other schemes include verges and Open Spaces around Wivenhoe which are the responsibility of the Borough Council. As well as maintaining the no mow policy for the existing Wivenhoe Road verges, the sites recommended to join the scheme from March 2021 are:

- roadside verges on de Vere Lane, Frances Close and Elmstead Rd/Broadfields junction;
- open spaces at Sandford Close, Bobbits Way, Bowes Road (aka “Millfield Common”), Boudicca Walk, Henrietta Close and the Coop triangle.

Cost implications of the CBC scheme will be assessed by the Borough and will be met by the Borough.
Note: where savings occur because of this Wivenhoe initiative it is important to agree with the Borough how Wivenhoe will benefit either in financial terms or in kind.

Councillors are asked to approve these proposals.

The project is a pilot and changes to its scope and implementation are to be expected. Councillors are asked to delegate authority to the Environment Committee to approve changes as required.

Appendix B

Well-being survey
WTC are putting together a wellbeing plan. In this survey we would welcome your responses.
GDPR note: Your responses will be collated anonymously and deleted once the survey is closed. The data kept will not relate to any respondents unless specified otherwise by the respondent.
1. In what way has the Covid pandemic affected your physical and mental health?
2. Has it particularly affected someone you know and how? Please keep this anonymous.
3. What has 2020 changed for you? What have you missed most during the restrictions?
4. What permanent effects do you think Covid (and/or the restrictions) have had on you in 2020? Are these positive or negative?
5. What have you learnt most about yourself or the community in the last year?
6. What wellbeing issues do you think you will need to address in 2021?
7. What ideas to do have that would help you and the community with wellbeing in 2021?
8. Would you be able and willing to help with the wellbeing plan? If so contact townclerk@wivenhoe.gov.uk