Higham Parish Council
Minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly 2005
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Minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Thursday, 21st April 2005 at 7.30 p.m.
Present: Cllr Mrs J.M.Papadopulos (Chairman)
County Councillor :- Cllr . F. Gibson, O.B.E.
Councillors :- J.D.Goring , J.A.Grey , Mrs J.Hinks , A.L.Howard ,
Mrs P.Oakeshott (also Borough), Mrs S.Saunders , Mrs A.Waugh
and S.Wright .
WPC Alison Duffort .
In attendance: 44 Parishioners
Apologies for absence: Received from Cllrs James and Jupp .
Kent Community Warden, Steve Enright .
The Meeting was opened by the Chairman, Cllr.Jennifer Papadopulos , who warmly welcomed all those present and thanked them for their support and encouragement.
The Chairman reported that over the past year the village had suffered severe problems due to the prolonged closure of the Higham Tunnel, graffiti, speeding cars, and vandalism. She urged villagers to work together to make Higham a pleasant place to live.
She introduced the Members of the Parish Council and the Clerk.
The Chairman made a presentation to Cllr . Frank Gibson, O.B.E. who was retiring at the forthcoming election, having loyally served as a County Councillor for the past 20 years, and she wished him a long and happy retirement.
She also made a presentation to Alan Taylor, who had reported on Parish Council Meetings in The Bridge, taking over from his late wife. The Parish Council would now appoint a Councillor to act as a Press Officer at the forthcoming Annual Parish Council Meeting, thus bringing it in line with other Parish Councils.
The Chairman explained that the format for the evening would be the same as the previous year. Most reports normally given at the Assembly were now contained in the Parish Newsletter, which had been circulated throughout the village. The Chairman emphasised that the Parish Council still wished to hear the views and opinions of those Parishioners present, and she invited them to make comment accordingly.
The Minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly , held on Thursday, 29 th April 2004, were confirmed and signed.
Matters Arising from the Minutes.
The Clerk reported that any matters arising would be dealt with during the Meeting.
To receive the Annual Report of the Parish Council.
The Chairman ensured that all persons present had a copy of the " Higham Parish Council Annual Newsletter and Reports 2005" booklet before proceeding further. She proposed that all reports would be taken as read, and invited comments from Parishioners at the end of each item.
a. Allotments (P 9)
b. Planning (P. 11)
c. Recreation Ground (P. 30)
Mr Johnson, of Villa Road enquired regarding the exact size of a Parish Council Allotment.
The draft simplified statement of accounts for 2004/2005 (P.6) was agreed by all those present, this being proposed by Cllr . Oakeshott , and seconded by Cllr . Goring. Those present noted that the balance to be carried forward into the new financial year was £17,525.03 and that this figure included unused general and specific contingency funds, and funds for work carried out, and for which invoices were still awaited. The large balance in the current account also reflected grants received to pay for the Youth Shelter, which had been installed just before the end of the financial year.
Report from County Council Representative.
Cllr . Gibson looked back on his long connection with the village. He had been appointed as a representative to Strood Rural District Council in 1971 and had helped prepare for the formation of Gravesham Borough and Council in 1974, later to become Leader from 1976 until 1985, two years of which he had been the representative for Higham . The County Council had set an increase of 3.7% for Council Tax for the new financial year, in spite of the increase in Government grant being the third lowest for all County Councils. It was pleasing that, for the third year in succession, the County Council had been confirmed as "excellent" in the Government's Comprehensive Performance Assessment which had earned an additional £21 million, which sadly had been offset by the cut in grant, the failure to meet the full costs of asylum seekers and the Government's reluctance to use the higher 2001 census data. The village had secured one of the Kent Community Wardens, who was shared with Chalk. Cllr . Gibson reported that he was chairing a select committee looking at the transport needs of Kent for the next 25 years and the new 10 year Local Transport Plan would be out for consultation soon. The consultation period for the SEERA Regional Plan had been extended to the end of the year. The County Council believed that the transport and infrastructure would be unable to support the increased number of houses proposed in this Plan. Unfortunately, further consultation on the proposed Regional Park would have to be delayed until after the elections as the consultants had not yet produced a suitable plan. The Forestry Commission had recently purchased some 350 acres of agricultural land at Jeskyns Farm at Cobham but at the present time it was not clear what it was to be used for. Highways Maintenance work within the Borough was to be taken back by the County Council which was to move personnel into Joynes House. The formation of a "24/7" call centre would ensure an excellent service for the future.
Mr Mead, of Taylors Lane, was unaware that the land at Cobham had been purchased and wondered if it was to be used for biofuel . Cllr . Gibson believed that it might be used for growing wheat, rape and arable crops, interspersed with spruce and larch. Talks would shortly be underway with Forestry Officers to ensure that the proposed use of the site was suitable.
Report from District Council Representative.
Cllr . Oakeshott reported that the Borough Council had removed graffiti from both the Pavilion and the bottom of the village. The clear refuse sacks continued to be well used and some 25% of all rubbish was now being recycled. A new bus shelter was to be installed at the top of Villa Road the following week. An objection had been made to the excessive number of houses proposed under the SEERA South East Plan taking into consideration such factors as lack of infrastructure, transport, schools, adequate water supply, and the threat to "green belt" land. Cllr . Oakeshott expressed concern regarding the need for good quality housing to be used, unlike some examples which had recently been viewed in the Millennium Village. The Borough Council had arranged an Older Peoples Forum to which HiARA had sent a total of 8 delegates. Work would start later this month on the building of 3 two- bedroomed cottages at Grove Farm under the Rural Housing Initiative.
It was observed that the old asbestos roof of the bus shelter at the top of Villa Road was laying on the grass verge.
Mr Mead reminded those present that the Gravesham Local Development Framework document would shortly be going to public consultation and he urged everyone to respond.
Report from the Governors of Higham Primary School (P.27)
Report of the Kent Association of Parish Councils (P.7)
To receive reports from Village Bodies and Voluntary Organisations (to be found throughout the booklet).
The Chairman thanked Judi Stanley for all her help in compiling the copy material for the newsletter.
To consider any other matters raised by Parishioners.
It was reported that there had been an increase in the amount of dog fouling to the village and Parishioners asked for dog bins to be placed in Villa Road (near the garages), near the Primary School and on the corner of Highwoods Close.
In answer to a question from a Parishioner, WPC Alison Duffort reported that a Youth Shelter had recently been installed to the Recreation Ground following a successful application for grant aid. This was aimed at the younger kids who did not drive cars and wanted somewhere to meet. These galvanised steel structures had been successful elsewhere and it was noted that the shelter had already been graffitied .
Any Other Business.
A query from a Parishioner regarding whose responsibility it was to provide crossovers and access was referred to the Gravesham Highways Department.
In response to a question from a Parishioner Mr Mead expressed cautious optimism that he hoped that the new tenant of the Railway Tavern would consider re-opening the Post Office facility, although this would mean that personnel would need to be trained.
Mr Mead highlighted current traffic parking problems to Forge Lane, Villa Road and outside the shops and suggested that the idea of a one-way system to the village should be investigated again.
The Chairman introduced Barrie Howes, Youth Leader for the Higham Youth Club, and 4 of the Members, to the Meeting. Mr Howes reported that a total of 19 youngsters from the Youth Club had taken part in a sponsored sleepover at the Memorial Hall in aid of the NSPCC. They had great fun taking part in organised activities whilst staying in sleeping bags for 24 hours and the Community Warden, Steve Enright , had attended to provide extra security. Barrie thanked the parents for providing the cooking and the greengrocer for giving fresh fruit. The £610 raised had been boosted by a volunteer who worked for a major bank and he presented a cheque for £1010 to Michelle Baxter of the NSPCC.
The Chairman reminded those present that Clive Stanley, Webmaster for Higham Parish Council, would be available to demonstrate the new Parish Council website on his laptop, and answer any Parishioners' questions during the interval.
BREAK FOR BUFFET TABLE AND REFRESHMENTS
The Vice-Chairman welcomed Bob Ogley who gave a talk entitled " Doodlebugs and Rockets" to commemorate the 60 th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
To note the date of the next Annual Parish Assembly.
This was given as being Thursday, 20th April 2006 at 7.30 p.m.
The Vice-Chairman thanked fellow Members of the Parish Council, the County Representative, and her fellow Borough Representative, for their support over the past year.
She thanked the Clerk for her continued hard work.
She thanked Lesley Topping for providing a delicious buffet.
Finally, in closing, she thanked all Parishioners for attending the Meeting and welcomed them back next year, and to future Meetings of the Parish Council.
There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 10.07 p.m.
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