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Rochford Town Team Meeting - 24 April 2023 - Minutes

Notes of Zoom Meeting held 24 April 2023


Geoff Durham (GD; Chair) Ashingdon Elim Church Graham Stapleton (GS) Howard & Stapleton

Alan Hughes (AH) Sarah Beth

Mike Webb (MW) Rochford District Council (RDC)


Dave Dobbin (DD) Rochford Methodist Church

1. Welcome, Apologies & Introductions

  • Apologies were noted and introductions were made as appropriate.
  • The notes from the previous meeting were agreed as an accurate record.
  • Actions from the last meeting were covered within the relevant agenda items.

2. Elections of Chair and Vice Chair

  • As there were no other nominations, Geoff Durham and Graham Stapleton confirmed that they would be prepared to continue for another final year as Chair and Vice Chair respectively.
  • It was stressed that new members were needed to take on these positions by the end of this year or the Town Team would close.
  • Geoff Durham and Graham Stapleton were formally nominated by AH to continue in their positions, seconded by MW.
  • The following appointments were unanimously decided by all attendees: Geoff Durham – Chair of Rochford Town Team.

Graham Stapleton – Vice Chair of Rochford Town Team.

3. Finances

  • Action from previous meeting:
    • None.
  • Bank account
    • GS advised that all bills are paid and income has been received recently from the booklet sales.
    • A grant from RDC under the government’s UKSPF scheme was obtained and fully used.
    • The bank account funds will support additional printing of leaflets/booklets and other small items but additional funding would be needed for any new initiatives.

4. Marketing & Communication

  • Actions from previous minutes:
    • Town Team, Heritage Trail & Tapestry information to be added to the RPC website from the information previously provided. Action carried forward: JM.
    • JM to establish whether booklets can be put on sale at the Parish Office in the Kings Head. Action carried forward: JM.
  • Social Media
    • Facebook and Twitter posts continue to generate interest but these are only posted occasionally as nobody has volunteered to undertake these using their skills to create interesting posts.
  • Other Media
    • Tapestry and Heritage Trail booklets are on sale at Sarah Beth, Miss Daisy and Rochford Library. These venues are advertised on the website.
    • There have been no further media articles about the tapestry or heritage tours.

5. Events & Initiatives

  • Actions from previous meeting
    • None.
  • RDC UKSPF Grants
    • The 2022-23 grant was fully used to reprint 250 Heritage Trail booklets, frame 7 large heritage survey maps and produce a large banner to advertise tapestry events.
    • The 3 Rochford Heritage Maps will be on display at Rochford Library during their May history month.
  • The 4 Ashingdon Heritage Maps will be on display at Ashingdon Memorial Hall during the local elections and over the Coronation weekend.
    • At this stage, the Town Team is unable to bid for the round 2 & 3 grants as we have insufficient support for preparing the bids or delivering any outcomes. This is very disappointing as there are some major heritage initiatives which could be achieved.
  • Ongoing activities
    • The tapes recorded by Peter Whittingham have now been transferred to digital recordings and made into YouTube videos. These have been uploaded to the Town Team website under the Memory Lane area.
    • A severe shortage of volunteers is hampering all areas, making events hard to put on:
      • More tour guides are needed; people who are willing to dress up and use the tour scripts to tell people about the Old House and Historic Rochford.
      • Website and Heritage Trail administration needs more volunteers.
      • Tapestry transportation and setup needs more volunteers.
  • Recent events
    • The Mill Hall is displaying the majority of the tapestry panels but cannot display the knitted items due to space and no stewards being onsite.
    • Guided Tours: U3A on 14th July
    • Event Train: Sat 15th July for tours & tapestry display
    • Tapestry displays since last meeting:
  • Future events & initiatives
    • Guided tours are being conducted in May and July.
    • On Saturday 15th July, Greater Anglia have arranged an Event Train initiative with the Town Team. Up to 60 visitors will be taken on walking tours around the town, visit the Old House and view the tapestry at the WI Hall. They will then be free to spend the afternoon in the town.
    • Confirmed future tapestry displays:
      • May: St. Aidan’s in The Fairway will be displaying a full tapestry exhibition throughout May.
      • Sunday 11th June: full display at Rayleigh Mill Hall for the Trinity Fair.
      • Saturday 15th – Saturday 22nd July: full exhibition at Rochford WI Hall.
      • Other display venues are welcomed.
    • At previous meetings, a number of potential new initiatives were discussed and agreed as good ideas if funding could be obtained. Although these have been brought to the attention of RDC and RPC, there is no movement on any of them. The RDC UKSPF could finance some of these but we are unfortunately unable to bid for the grants due to lack of support. :
      • Heritage plaques on the numerous listed buildings in Rochford, similar to those in Rayleigh and Hockley.
      • Heritage scene discs or murals depicting events and locations around the town (painted by local artists).
      • Improved road signage (e.g. brown signs on Bradley Way, better signage for Back Lane car park) and ‘within town’ signage to heritage locations.
      • Updated heritage map and historic timeline in the square and at the station (using the map from the Heritage Trail booklet as a basis).
      • Information centre and museum.
      • Market square aesthetic improvements.

The heritage plaques and painted scenes have been discussed in outline with the Heritage Lottery who saw a major issue being the cost of planning permission. They were interested in the concepts but would not wish any funding to be swallowed up by the cost of permission for each building. A blanket planning permission approach would probably be the only way that the painted scenes initiative could proceed.

6. Any Other Business

  • Rochford Town Team is no longer viable in the long term unless there are additional volunteers to take the lead and progress new initiatives. RPC was approached to consider incorporating the Town Team under their organisation, including the Town Team website and all materials, except for the tapestry which should ideally be handed over to RDC for its permanent display, since it was a district-wide Town Team project. Unfortunately, RPC have not agreed to incorporate the Town Team.
  • A permanent site for a Tapestry exhibition has not been found. Although RDC remain interested, there are no firm plans to take ownership of displaying the tapestry, knitted items and heritage information.
  • It was unanimously agreed that the following months should be used to find organisations who would take ownership of the Town Team assets in order that the Town Team can be closed. Action: GD.

7. Date of Next Meeting

Date to be agreed.