Higham Parish Council
Minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly, Thursday 20th April 2006
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Present: Cllr Mrs J.M.Papadopulos (Chairman)
Councillors :- J.D.Goring, J.A.Grey, Mrs J.Hinks, A.L.Howard, Mrs P.Oakeshott (also Borough), Mrs S.Saunders, and S.Wright .
In attendance: 32 Parishioners
PC Steve Ridley of North Kent Traffic Management Division of Kent Police, and Walter Halkerston of UNIPAR.
Apologies for absence: Received from County Councillor Mike Snelling, Cllrs James, Jupp and Waugh.
WPC Alison Duffort
The Meeting was opened by the Chairman, Cllr.Jennifer Papadopulos, who warmly welcomed all those present and thanked them for attending, even though they were only a small percentage of the village population.
She reported that the first phase of the Rural Housing within the village was now complete and that a second was planned at the bottom of School Lane. It was hoped that this would encourage families to stay within the village and these would in turn support the village school and keep it at strength at a time where some local communities faced the closure or amalgamation of their schools because of falling rolls.
She introduced PC Steve Ridley of the North Kent Traffic Management Division of the Kent Police and Walter Halkerston of UNIPAR , who gave a detailed explanation of the Speedwatch System and demonstrated some of the equipment. The Chairman explained that although the equipment was expensive (£1850) there might be a possibility that several Parishes could share it and thus reduce the cost.
Mr Mead asked at what speed would an offence have been committed. PC Ridley replied that the usual multiple was to add 10% + 2 (i.e. 30 mph limit would receive a warning at 35 mph and over this speed would incur a penalty).
The Chairman thanked PC Ridley and Mr Halkerston for attending the Meeting and they left.
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, 21st April 2005, were confirmed and signed.
Matters Arising from the Minutes.
The Clerk reported that Parish Council allotment plots were measured in rods. Each rod was equivalent to 5.03m or 16.5 feet. The Parish Council had recently met with representatives from Kent Highways to discuss various traffic management issues, including the feasibility of implementing a one-way system through the village.
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 2006" 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. 14 )
b. Planning (P. 10 )
c. Recreation Ground (P. 32 )
Mr Mead expressed concern at the access onto the School Lane Rural Housing site. The Chairman reassured him that the Highways Department had carried out a full site feasibility survey before the land had been purchased.
The draft simplified statement of accounts for 2005/2006 (P.7) 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 £13,753.85 and that this figure included unused general and specific contingency funds, and funds for work carried out, and for which invoices were still awaited.
Report from County Council Representative.
As Cllr. Mike Snelling was unable to attend the Meeting he had provided a written report. The publication of the Government White Paper on Local Government was currently awaited with KCC remaining opposed to the creation locally of a large unitary authority to replace the County and Borough Councils. Also awaited was the long-delayed report by Sir Michael Lyons on how Council Tax should be reformed. The switch in Government Grant from the South East to the North had had an adverse impact on Kent and its Council Tax payers. A recent Government directive that schools with over 25% surplus places had to be closed or amalgamated had prompted the forthcoming publication of the “Primary School Strategy”.
The “Building Schools for the Future” programme was soon to be implemented in Gravesham with plans to spend £150 million on rebuilding or improving the majority of Secondary schools in the area. The concept of the KCC Local Boards was proving to be successful, especially the grants which could be made at grass roots level for local projects, and Higham had benefited from this.
Report from District Council Representative.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the new Rural Housing development in School Lane was for young people who had lived in the village for at least ten years and were living at home with their parents, but had a young child. The Green Belt site had become available under the Government exemption policy whereby only one third of the total plot could be used for development. She urged Parishioners to inspect the outline plans during the evening.
A new bus shelter had now been installed to the A226. Members of HiARA hoped to attend the forthcoming Old People's Forum which would deal with the subject of transport. She reminded Parishioners to always obtain a crime number when reporting incidences of vandalism so that a record could be kept. The new Visitors Centre at Shorne Wood Country Park was nearing completion. Paths had been widened so that the disabled were able to access the Park with the Tramper vehicle. Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the Tour de France would pass through the village next July en-route between London and Canterbury.
In answer to a question from Mr Chilmaid, Cllr. Oakeshott explained that when young people moved on from the new Rural Housing development they had to sell back to the Housing Association so that the properties were always available for local people.
Mr Mead suggested that the sharing of experiences of vandalism through the KAPC might prove helpful.
Report from the Governors of Higham Primary School (P.19)
Report of the Kent Association of Parish Councils (P.8)
Mr Mead enquired if the concept of a “Walking Bus” was currently being considered by the school. Cllr. Hinks reported that Cllr. James had just become Chairman of Governors and that this matter was already under investigation.
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.
She also thanked Clive Stanley for his help in maintaining the Parish Council website.
To consider any other matters raised by Parishioners.
The Chairman reported that permission had now been obtained for the erection of the five new village signs on highways land.
Any Other Business.
Mr Wenham enquired regarding the current trend for installing wind turbines on properties. Cllr. Oakeshott reminded him that planning permission needed to be sought. Mrs Starbuck reported that she had some literature which she would be willing to share with other Parishioners if they were interested.
Mr Chilmaid reported that the Borough Council charged £10 to remove white items. Cllr. Oakeshott confirmed that this charge covered the removal of several such items and not just one.
The Chairman reminded Parishioners that during the interval it would be possible to view the display of sketch proposals for the second affordable housing development on land adjacent to School Lane. These had been drawn up by Hyde Housing Association for a small development of rented and shared ownership accommodation for local people.
BREAK FOR BUFFET TABLE AND REFRESHMENTS
The Chairman welcomed Margaret Davies who gave a talk entitled “A Way with Words”.
To note the date of the next Annual Parish Assembly.
This was given as being Thursday, 19th April 2007 at 7.30 p.m.
The Chairman thanked fellow Members of the Parish Council, the County Representative, and Borough Representatives, 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 10.20 p.m.
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