11-21-23 TC MINS
MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF LOUTH TOWN COUNCIL
HELD IN THE OLD COURT ROOM, THE SESSIONS HOUSE, LOUTH
ON TUESDAY 21st NOVEMBER 2023
The Mayor, Cllr. J. Simmons (JS) (in the chair).
Present Councillors: J. Baskett (JB), Mrs. E. Ballard (Mrs. EB), M. Barnes (MB), Mrs. S. Crew (Mrs. SC), J. Drake (JD), H. Filer (HF), L. Frost (LF), D. Hobson (DH), G.E. Horton (GEH), Mrs. J. Makinson-Sanders (Mrs. JMS), Mrs. K. Parsons (Mrs. KP), P. Starsmore (PS) and Mrs. P.F. Watson (Mrs. PFW).
Councillors not present: L.M. Cooney (LMC) and M. Lamb (ML).
The Town Clerk, Mrs. L.M. Phillips, the Town Clerk’s Assistant, Miss. S. Chitauro, Mr. Findlay and Mr. Collinson of the London Road Sports Partnership, The Chairman of the Hubbard’s Hills Trust, Mr. Andrew Leonard and three members of the public were also in attendance.
Members of the public spoke in the public forum as follows:
- One lady spoke of her concerns regarding the River Lud. She said that she was pleased for the flood defences which saved Louth from flooding on 20th October, but stated she had some criticisms. She shared that she believed that the flood alert had been given too late and should have been given when the height of the river was 0.41m. She had spoken to a Mr. Steven Coe, a Flood and Costal Risk Management Advisor, who had informed her that the flood defences had already kicked in, but she had not received a flood alert until 10 minutes after she spoke to Mr. Coe, which was two hours late. Her second concern was regarding the bridges in town. She asked the Council who or what body would be responsible for checking the bridges and whether there was an emergency procedure for a blocked bridge and stated that she believed that the Environment Agency had a duty to ensure the river flows correctly through the town. Her third concern was the flood defence and water hitting the Broadbank bridge. She claimed that she had previously been assured that the water would never be allowed to reach a height at which it hit the top of the before passing under. However, on the 20th October the water had been hitting the bridge before passing under, which had obstructed the flow of water through the town causing it to back up, which should not have happened. She then expressed concerns over the maintenance of the River Lud, stating that in previous years there had been a walkthrough during November to clear reeds and greenery from the river and look at the properties bordering the River Lud to make sure that they were not impacting the flow of the river. However, this had not been the case in 2022. The lady had been told by Mr. Coe that the walkthrough for 2023 would be taking place once the water level of the River Lud was back to normal. She finished by stating that she believed that the Environment Agency need to answer questions and give Louth more support regarding the river. She asked the Town Council whether it had an emergency procedure to follow, and whether it had contact with the Environment Agency. Mrs. PFW commented that she believed that it was an important issue and that the Environment Agency needed to be taking action to maintain the river. Cllr. Mrs. JMS shared that she had spoken to MP Victoria Atkins regarding the river. She also stated that she had been told by the Environment Agency that the water in the River Lud was running off from other places and that she had been warned that this would be happening more frequently.
- A gentleman addressed the Town Council regarding the Royal British Legion Hall (RBL) in Louth. He started by explaining that the RBL hall in Louth had been closed by the RBL Headquarters on September 25th with the intention to take it to open market for sale. He said that he was worried as the hall is an important part of Louth and had provided social, economic, and cultural benefit to the town. After finding out about the intended sale of the hall, Mr. Irving explained that he took it upon himself to find others who felt concerned about the sale of the hall and they had formed a constituted community group who met every two weeks and had started engagement and awareness campaigns which had conducted a petition which had over a thousand signatures and a questionnaire with over 200 responses. Mrs. PFW responded to Mr. Irving by expressing her initial concerns about the closure of the building and said that she was contacted by the area manager of the RBL for Lincolnshire, who told Cllr. Mrs. PFW that the building needed to be investigated before it was put on the market to be sold. Mr. Irving told the Council that the Charities Act, Section 117(c) allowed a charity to transfer assets to another charity at market value, and that his groups intent was to engage with the RBL at a trustee level. Cllr. Mrs. EB said that she had been told that the RBL hall had been gifted, to which Mr. Irving replied that he was looking into a freedom of information request to find out the details. It was suggested by the Council that Mr. Irving come back during the new year to inform the Council how he was progressing with the issue.
- Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs. LMC and ML.
- Declarations of Interest/Dispensations
The following declarations were made:
- DH – item 5 as a member of East Lindsey District Council (ELDC).
- GEH – item 5 as a member of ELDC.
- Mrs. JMS – item 5 as a member of East Lindsey District Council (ELDC) and item 9 as a member of the Hubbard’s Hills Trust.
- JS – item 7 as an acquaintance of the business owner.
It was RESOLVED to approve the minutes of the Council Meeting held on the 19th September 2023 as a correct record.
- Committee Minutes
It was RESOLVED to confirm receipt of the minutes and adopt the resolutions contained therein of the following Committee Meetings:
- Planning Committee – 29th August 2023
- Planning Committee – 19th September 2023
- Planning Committee – 10th October 2023
- Governance and Finance Committee – 8th August 2023
- Community Resources Committee – 29th August 2023
- Personnel Committee – 11th July 2023
- Presentation from Mr. Findlay and Mr. Collinson on the London Road Sports Partnership
Findlay started the presentation by introducing himself as the President of Louth Old Boys Club and Mr. Collinson as a member of the Cricket Club and former duty manager at London Road, and a member of the new committee for London Road Pavilion. He stated that they were there representing the 3 Home Clubs, hockey, cricket and football, which were taking over the London Road Pavilion to form the London Road Sports Partnership (LRSP) and were committed to supporting the site and keeping it running long term. Mr. Findlay explained that there were 850 members playing at the facility of all ages and sexes using the site, bringing many people into the town of Louth and that the football club currently spends £3750 on footballs alone, showing the expense and cost of running the facility. It was explained to the Council that it was not a club decision to take over the London Road Pavilion and that it had been forced upon them by East Lindsay District Council (ELDC) and Magna Vitae (MV), but Mr. Findlay said that ELDC had helped to create a model that worked for all involved, with a 5-year roll-out funding plan. Mr. Findlay said he hoped to get the site returned to the state it was originally in 13 years ago. He disclosed that the London Road Sports Partnership planned to use the function room to a greater extent to generate funding. They also planned to refurbish the kitchen, repaint the entire building, install new fire doors, upgrade the CCTV, put a barrier across the front entrance, and drain the pitch. He also mentioned that ELDC had agreed to pay for new LED astroturf lighting, replace the mower and correct the drains. Mr. Findlay explained that they were looking for local businesses to sponsor them as their budget was tight and currently incomplete. The Partnership were to meet with MV on 28th November 2023 and had been told by MV that they should be able to obtain the actual 6 monthly figures for the coming year by that date, which would help them to finalise the budget for the next year. He estimated a shortfall of £65,000. Mr. Findlay asked the Council if it would consider investing in the LRSP and asked if it would consider an annual contribution of £20,000. The floor was opened for Councillors comments and questions to Mr. Findlay and Mr. Collinson. Cllr. Mrs. EB commented that the Council would need to discuss its budget before confirming a contribution. Cllr. GEH called London Road Pavilion a jewel in the crown of Louth and affirmed that it was important that it was maintained. He said that he personally believed it would be amiss for Council not to contribute. He also commented that he was pleased that MV were bringing the facility up to date. Cllr. JD explained that he had been a member of sports clubs which had been entirely self-sufficient and raised money for themselves but that he was not opposed to supporting the Partnership. He expressed concern that it seemed like ELDC and MV were dumping a liability upon the LRSP. He said that he believed that the Council should support LRSP but worried that £20,000 would be insufficient to cover the work that needed to be done to the Pavilion. He expressed his concerns about how the contribution would continue in the future and that it would need further consultation. Cllr. JD suggested that FOG could produce an options paper for how the Council could proceed to contribute in the future. Mr. Findlay responded by saying that any funding from the Council would be beneficial and that ELDC would help to bridge the gap for the first 5 years. He also divulged that LRSP were looking at doing new things on the site to raise money. Cllr. Mrs. JMS assured the Council that the LRSP had been working hard to fundraise and run the facility. She maintained that the site needed to be protected for the people of Louth. Cllr. LF asked Mr. Findlay whether the £20,000 he asked the Council for would be a set figure for 5 years or would the Partnership return next year asking for a different sum? Mr. Findlay answered that it would be an annual contribution of £20,000 over a 50 year lease, therefore they were asking the Council for a long term contribution. Cllr. JB asked if the LRSP had been receiving support from ELDC and whether there was a permanent agreement in place? Mr. Findlay affirmed that it would be very likely that they would be accepted for grant funding from ELDC. Cllr. JB then commented that car parking was a major issue at the Pavilion and could potentially be costly to solve. He asked whether Lincolnshire County Council would be supporting the LRSP regarding parking. Mr. Findlay replied that he had been to Louth Town Council regarding the parking issues who had in turn been in touch with Lincolnshire County Council Highways and confirmed that it was in the process of being dealt with but that he was unsure of what the outcome would be. He said that the football club paid the Cattle Market £500 for overflow parking but people were not using it. The Town Clerk asked how much funding ELDC were likely to invest into the project over 5 years, and whether the LRSP would still need the Town Council’s £20,000 as well as ELDC funding. Mr. Findlay thought that ELDC would look to contribute in the region of £50,000 and help from LTC would still be needed. Cllr. Mrs. PFW asked why the £20,000 that the LRSP were asking the Town Council for was not levied on ELDC, saying that she believed that it was not just up to LTC. She said that although she believed that they were entitled to the funding, it should come from the much larger East Lindsay area. Cllr. Mrs. SC asked whether the LRSP were going to ask Town Councillors to be on the Board after they had set up their constitution and stated that it was essential to have a member of Council on the Board if they were to keep receiving money from Town Council. Mr. Findlay responded saying that they did not have plans to invite a Councillor onto the board and they wanted to limit Board Directors to 6 and its Committee to a maximum of 9, but that there was nothing to stop Councillors from attending their meetings. Cllr. LF asked, if Louth Town Council were to contribute £20,000, would ELDC reduce its contribution? She commented that she did not want ELDC to reduce their contribution based on what the Town Council gave. The Town Clerk stated that to add £20,000 to the Council’s precept would make a substantial difference to the precept but said that it could be possible if the Council had 5 years to increase the amount incrementally up to the £20,000 and then start contributing it to the LRSP. Mr. Findlay confirmed to the Council that the ELDC handover would cost ELDC around £150-200,000. Cllr. GEH suggested to Mr. Findlay that contingency plans needed to be made and that money and funding for replacement equipment needed to be taken into account. Mr. Findlay responded by saying that he would get confirmation in writing from ELDC to say that they will support LRSP. It was RESOLVED that FOG should consider options and put forward a recommendation for 2024/25 with its budget proposals, this to be reviewed the following year if necessary.
- Presentation from Mr. J. Timson re. Application for 3G at Wood Lane
The Town Clerk confirmed that there had been an email forwarded to all Councillors from Mr. J. Timson stating that he was unfortunately unable to attend the meeting, but that he hoped to attend the next meeting on the 12th December 2023 to provide an update and present to Council.
- Brown’s Panorama
After discussion, it was RESOLVED to grant permission to John Taylors to reproduce its images of Brown’s Panorama for display on the walls of its new premises.
- Louth Flood Alleviation Scheme
Cllr. DH proposed that following the Flood Alert issued for the Louth Area on 20th October as a result of a prolonged period of heavy rainfall which caused the River Lud running through the town to be at its highest level since 2007; that LTC write to the Environment Agency (EA) to request:
- The EA’s opinion on how the Louth Flood Alleviation Scheme is performing since becoming operational and especially in relation to its last ‘test’ on 20th October.
Additionally, Cllr. DH suggested asking the EA what percentage of capacity of the reservoirs were filled on the 20th October, as he was led to believe that they were almost at full capacity.
- What adjustments do the EA intend to make, if any, to the scheme to reduce the maximum river level when the scheme is in operation.
DH explained that as the water level increases, the reservoir closes, restricting the amount of water that can enter the town. Cllr. DH said that it was to his understanding that the EA can adjust the maximum level that the river can get to.
- How the EA spend the annual maintenance contribution from LTC toward the alleviation scheme to ensure it is performing correctly and providing the town with maximum protection.
- What consideration will be made to reducing the threshold at which a flood alert and/or flood warning might be issued so that they are made public in a timely manner.
DH disclosed that when the flood alert was issued at 13.45 on 20th October 2023 the River Lud had already been at a high level for at least 2 hours. Cllr. DH explained that Louth is the only rapid response catchment in the whole of East Midlands area which means that it can go from regular state to flood state in only 2 hours. Cllr. DH believed that because of this, the flood alert should be given earlier in the day.
Cllr. Mrs. EB expressed her concern that surface water was a problem with the river and that the retention pond located at Weavers Tryst was not working sufficiently. She stated had twice been in contact with the EA to ask them to clear other waterways in the area. Cllr. JS agreed with Cllr. Mrs. EB and viewed that there were several factors contributing to the issue. She stated that she approached the management company for the Cyden Estate in Louth regarding the attenuation ponds at the site as the culverts were being blocked by reeds. The management company responded by telling Cllr. JS that whilst the residents who live by the pond were paying maintenance fees for the ponds, residents who lived further away from the ponds were not, causing a shortfall which meant that the management company did not have the money to undertake the maintenance. Cllr. JS remembered that the drains of Louth used to be regularly dredged which no longer happens. She finished by stating that the people of Louth need to know what the money that the Council gives to the EA is being used for and what contingency plans the EA has for the future. Cllr. Mrs. PFW suggested that the Council hold a meeting with the EA to receive a briefing from them on their procedures and to ask to what degree the protocol used on 20th October 2023 was successful. She added that the current plan may need further attention due to changes brought from climate change. Cllr. JB supported Cllr. Mrs. PFW’s suggestion of a meeting with the EA and expressed his concerns regarding the overgrown foliage at the attenuation ponds located at Stewton Beck. He said that there had been no maintenance to the ponds which had caused the pressure valves to fail. Cllr. PS mentioned that the EA needed to address the river run off and drainage system in the town. Cllr. Mrs. JMS informed the Council that she had been told that the EA did not clean drains to the same standard as the drainage board and farmers and suggested that all bodies needed to perform maintenance to the same standard. It was RESOLVED to support Cllr. DH’s requests to the EA. It was further RESOLVED to invite the EA to meet with the Council to discuss the concerns of the Council and public.
- Closed Session Items
There was discussion amongst Councillors about moving into closed session. Some Councillors expressed concern that the Hubbard’s Hills Trust business plan was to be discussed in closed session and did not understand the rationale for this. They asked for the meeting to be in closed session for the discussion of unpublicised accounts but move into open session for the discussion of the Hubbard’s Hills business plan as they believed it was in the interest of the people of Louth. Leonard explained that he wished to impart information of a confidential nature relating to a third-party during discussions of the business plan and felt that he could not do so in open session. He stated that the information had not been disclosed on the business plan because it related to somebody and the information would have an impact on the Council in future. A discussion ensued between the Council and a vote was undertaken to decide whether to move into closed session for both of the items on the agenda, which resulted in a tie unless Cllr. JS exercised her casting vote, as Chairman. Mr. Leonard confirmed that if the discussion took place in open session he would not be able to mention the element which was confidential, at all. Cllr. HF expressed her disappointment that only the resolution is minuted during closed session discussions and believed that the people of Louth should be able to access the full discussions regarding the large amounts of money that the Council give to the Hubbard’s Hills Trust. She established that she felt strongly that there should be transparency and that the Council should be open to public scrutiny, which Cllr. JS agreed with. Mr. Leonard then left the meeting stating that he was tired of the Councils attitude towards him after he had given up his free time to attend the meeting and requested that the Council send him any questions they may have regarding the draft accounts and business plan via email. The Mayor, Cllr. JS exercised her casting vote, and it was RESOLVED that the Council would enter closed session for discussion of both items on the agenda relating to Hubbard’s Hills.
NB: GEH left the meeting at 8.40pm.
The Council moved into closed session in accordance with the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960 to discuss the following items, information being of a third party, commercial, confidential and or legal nature with regard to Hubbard’s Hills. It was RESOLVED to:
- Receive the draft accounts for Hubbard’s Hills to 31st March 2023 noting a query regarding an entry relating to land acquisition, which Cllr. EB had knowledge of and explained;
- Receive the Hubbard’s Hills Trust business plan.
- That FOG should discuss possible ways to strengthen the relationship between the Council and the Hubbard’s Hills Trust.
- Next Meeting
It was noted that the next scheduled meeting of the Town Council would take place on 9th January 2024.
The Meeting Closed at 9.39pm.
Signed_______________________ (Chairman) Dated_________________________