Bakers Mill Update
The news, the information and the facts about where you live from your Bakers Mill Community Association (BMCA). Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
As many of you know there is a culvert that runs from the Mill Race under the green, around the edge of Bakers Court and to the pond. This has not been inspected or maintained since it was built over 10 years ago (and there may be some parts of the culvert that are older than this). The culvert runs below the Managed Land that is maintained by the residents (such as the main grass area and the border area in front of Bakers Court). So we think residents are responsible for it’s maintenance, but we are working hard to confirm this.
The Committee was concerned that if nothing is done, there may be serious problems that could impact us all and so consulted a company that specialises in culverts and this type of work. The quote for inspecting the culvert is £13,057. (We would mention that this work has to be done by a specialist firm approved by the Environment Agency and it has taken 5 months of research and meetings to find this firm). Their pre quote reccy showed that the culvert is significantly silted up in places and water flow is poor.
The inspection work is complicated and involves creating a dam at the Mill Race and another at the sluice near the original Mill. Then the water between the dams will be pumped out and the silt removed. Fish will be removed and then either a CCTV boat camera or people will be used to inspect inside the culvert. The sluice area will also be inspected. If any repair work is needed it will be done immediately, at extra cost, as this will be cheapest option.
The Mill Pond will also need significant work as the plants have almost blocked the waterway. So the plan for the Mill Race is to open it back to the banks, with plant growth cut to 2 foot below the water surface (they will grow back in time). This will improve the water flow, which will result in a better scouring effect of the culvert—helping to stop it silting up again. This work can only take place when there will be as little effect on the wildlife as possible. In the past we paid a specialist contractor to help keep the Mill Race open—at an annual cost of £1200—but he has retired and we are struggling to find a replacement.
The best time to do this work is in Summer, when water levels are low and so it is easier, and cheaper, to dam and drain. So ideally we would like to do this work soon, over 3 days, but first we would like to confirm who is liable for the costs and, secondly, we have just found out that part of the site (containing the culvert) is not owned by Barratts. We want to find out who the owner of this land is and ask them to contribute to the inspection and repair of the culvert. So the date of the work is still to be decided.
Initial enquiries have indicated that residents are responsible for these costs as part of the Managed Land areas. The Committee is aware that no-one on the Estate was given legal notice about the culvert responsibility in their Deeds or at time of purchasing their properties. So, we are taking advice on this.
In the future culvert inspections and Mill Pond clearing will need to be done at regular intervals. The Environment Agency stipulates culverts should be inspected on a 3-5-7 year basis—depending upon the quality of the installation. So this will be an ongoing cost.
How will we fund these costs if we have to? £5k was put aside for the culvert in this year’s Budget. Plus we expect a contribution from the unknown Freeholder. The General Reserves fund of £7.5k also in this year’s Budget can be used, plus we will postpone all non essential spending until our position is clearer. Last year this type of work included the Meadow Court bin stores, Bakers Court bike stores and the new embankment at Bakers Court. So we expect to be able to manage the costs without calling on residents for extra funding this year. We will keep you in the picture as matters unfold.
Half Yearly Bills
There have been a couple of queries about the half yearly bills issued by HML this year. To answer some of the queries:
The overall budget for the Estate is 3.7% lower than the previous year and 3.2% lower than 5 years ago. Individual bills will vary however. The overall annual budget set by the Committee and HML is divided across all the households on the Estate. The way it is divided is set out in documents drawn up by Barratts when the Estate was built and this apportionment cannot be altered.
Bills for Freeholders increased by 38% this year– mainly because £5k was put aside in case work was needed on the culvert (this cost is divided between all the properties on the Estate). There was also an increase in the budget for the general repairs that are needed now the Estate is over 10 years old. Over a 5 year period the Freeholders bills have increased 8.2%, which is well below inflation for this period.
Bills for Leaseholders vary more from year to year as major projects such as redecoration take place. As you know both external and internal redecoration are now completed and won’t be rescheduled for some years. We are now including reserves in the annual budget, so that the cost of future work has less of an impact on yearly bills.
Previously little money was put aside to build up our reserves for unforeseen items. Nor was money put aside for future costs such as redecoration. The Committee felt it was prudent to start a General Reserve and also to put aside some money for the culvert (in case it was found residents are responsible for this). HML should have shown the culvert as a separate item in the Budget breakdown, not included it in Gardening costs.
The negotiations with Barratts and E&M over the £30k settlement for void charges and the culvert are ongoing. This money will obviously be great at meeting the costs of the culvert, but we want to be sure residents are responsible before we accept this.
Fire Properties of Cladding & Fire Precautions
Barratt’s have informed us that the external cladding used on the properties is Hardieplank, which is a fibre reinforced cement plank. It has a “reaction to fire” classification of A2-s1, Do in accordance with EN 13501-1:2007 which is classed as a limited combustibility material.
Class A2 is defined as a material of limited combustibility
S1 is the measurement of smoke release and s1 is the lowest rating of “little or no smoke”
Do is the level of release of flaming particles and Do is the lowest category being “none”.
HML will be asked to check all the fire safety provisions on the Estate. Just a quick reminder that the most basic safety is to keep corridors, exits and road access clear. So no bikes in corridors, no vehicles blocking access.
Also, just to let you know the driveway in front of the Pump Station is owned by Anglia Water. There are No Parking signs there and in event of emergency vehicles parked there may be towed away to allow access.
Some of you may have noticed that the yellow Rose of Sharon was cut down whilst in flower. Just to say this was not done by us and the main contractors on the Estate. Numbers 1 to 6 Bakers Court have their own garden contractor who did this trimming. We made our feelings known to the Agents managing this block and asked them to liaise more closely with us. We hope this means we won’t see the flowers cut down when in bloom again.
A Life Belt was stolen again. There is a legal requirement for us to have this, so we will need to keep replacing it every time it is stolen. There are plans for replanting the railway garden at the end of Summer.
The small area of meadow planting near the Mill race has been very successful so the plan is to extend this. Money from the donations to the BMCA will be used for these projects.
The white sticks placed in the ground by a resident at the end of Dove House Meadow have proven very successful in stopping parking on that green area, but we feel the sticks could be replaced with something a little smarter. Discreet black posts with a chamfered top are planned.
One resident has asked about whether a bench could be provided. We have come concerns about this. Firstly where would it be located—we know that many residents prefer their view over the river to be unobstructed and so are unsure where would be acceptable. There is also concern that this might encourage unwelcome visitors to the Estate to congregate around the benches and increase the litter problem. Maintenance for the benches will need to be paid for by residents. Please let us know your views on this.
Bakers Mill Quiz Night
Bakers Mill Community Association are once again hosting a Fun Quiz Night on Friday 29th September at 7.30 pm at the River Stour Trust Visitor and Education Centre. Individuals, couples and teams are welcome (maximum of 8 persons per team). Tickets are only £8 per person (£3 if you don’t need a supper). Supper is Fish and Chips, Chicken and Chips, Sausage and Chips or Veggie Burger and Chips. To purchase tickets, contact John Bocking on 07880 724683.
If you would love to help with the social events, then we would love to hear from you!
Mill Tye Gallery and Art Courses
Some of you may have noticed that one of the buildings at the old Bakers Mill is now open as a Art Gallery. Peter Rumsey has opened Mill Tye Gallery & Arts Centre. It is open on Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm during August and the plan is to open the Gallery fully in October.
They are planning to run art classes in the upstairs of the Gallery—life drawing, water colours and more. So if you are interested in these pop along to the Gallery and let them know. Also keep an eye on their Facebook page where they are planning to announce all future classes.