Higham Parish Council
Minutes of the April 2006 Meeting
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Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Monday, 3rd April 2006 at 7.30 p.m.
Present: Cllr. Mrs J.M.Papadopulos (Chairman)
Councillors:- J.D.Goring, J.A.Grey, Mrs J.Hinks, A.L.Howard, M.L.James, C.L.Jupp (also Borough), Mrs P. Oakeshott (also Borough) Mrs S. Saunders, Mrs A. Waugh, and S.Wright.
In attendance: 13 Parishioners
Apologies for absence: Received from County Councillor M. Snelling and Clive Stanley.
The Chairman accepted apologies for absence.
There were no alterations to the Register of Members Interests.
The Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting , held on Monday, 20 th February 2006, were confirmed and signed.
Matters arising from the Minutes.
The Clerk reported that:-
a. P. 778 Matters Arising. Bus shelter to Lower Higham. The bus shelter had now been placed on order.
b. P. 778 Matters Arising. Memorial Seat. Mr Jarrett had been informed that the circular walk sign would not be reprinted, but that the County Council would allow either a kissing gate or a stile as a memorial, and a reply was currently awaited. Cllr. Waugh reported that the kissing gate would be located next to the Churchyard and she reported that she hoped to install another to the area with funds from the R.O.W. budget, to deter motor bikes.
c. P. 778 Matters Arising. Recreation Ground. Trojan Engineering had quoted £430 plus VAT to weld on box sections of metal to the two picnic tables to save removing them. Cllr. Wright asked if a more detailed specification of materials to be used could be provided.
d. P. 779 Highways. WPC Duffort had confirmed that the camera to the top of the traffic lights in Villa Road, facing the garage, was a traffic light sensor to allow the safe egress of traffic from the garage forecourt.
e. P.782 Any Other Business. Replacement of Dickens Sign. A date for the re-installation of the sign was currently awaited from the sub-contractor.
f. There had now been a total of 18,522 hits to the website with the figures for March being 2071.
Rural Housing Initiative - School Lane.
Cllr. Saunders announced that she wished to stand down for the duration of this item and took no part in the discussions which followed.
Cllr. Oakeshott confirmed that the Borough Council had now purchased one third of the land at School Lane and a site survey had now been carried out to assess the suitability of the site. A public exhibition to display sketch proposals which had been drawn up by the Hyde Housing Association for site layout and style of properties was to be held in Higham Library on 11 th April from 3.30 p.m. until 7.30 p.m., when Housing and Highways Officers would be present along with representatives of the Hyde Housing Association to answer any questions.
The exhibition would also be on display at the Annual Parish Assembly on 20 th April. She reminded those present that a formal planning application would need to be submitted in due course.
Cllr. Jupp summarised some of the reasons why the Parish Council was supporting the initiative. The original proposal to consider a total of 14 residences on this site had been reduced to 9 by the Council, and the list of Higham residents eligible for consideration, as identified by the Housing Needs Survey, was already in excess of this number. The access to School Lane was at its widest point, with good sight lines and met the traffic safety requirements. Traffic problems to School Lane had been caused by heavy lorries and not cars.
The future of Higham as a sustainable village required young people and this scheme was designed to encourage them to stay instead of moving away. The school had suffered a reduction in numbers of children and if this trend continued it was possible that it might be considered for amalgamation with a nearby school and close. The development was set back from the road behind a shield of existing trees and, given the success of Isis Cottages, the design of the properties was more likely to enhance the value of local properties rather than to reduce them. Whilst it was anticipated that only smaller plots of suitable land would become available within the village, this was an opportunity that could not be allowed to slip by.
In response Cllr. Grey stated that whilst he was not against the principle of rural housing he remained opposed to development on green belt land. This proposed development exceeded the outline numbers discussed at the start of the scheme and he felt that sites elsewhere in School Lane and Canal Road should also have been considered. In answer to a question from Cllr. Howard, Cllr. Jupp confirmed that it was understood that no further development would be able to take place on this site and that this would be built into the agreement. If residents wished to move from the development the property would be sold back to the Hyde Housing Association to keep it for the young people of the village. As some residents had not received a letter from the Hyde Housing Association informing them of the Exhibition, the Chairman agreed to chase this for them.
The Chairman showed Parishioners a copy of the feasibility option for the proposed development and assured them that it was understood that the owner of the remaining land would not be allowed to sell further land at a future date to expand the development.
Mr Pearton, of Chalk Road, expressed concern that the sewerage system to School Lane would be unable to cope with these extra properties as well as those under consideration for the land beyond the station car park. Cllr. Oakeshott confirmed that the Borough Council was not in favour of residences at this site but would look into warehousing, commercial property or recreational facilities instead. The Chairman confirmed that no plans were under consideration for this site at the present time.
To discuss further security measures for Higham Pavilion.
The Clerk reported that following the break-ins to the Pavilion, the Crime Prevention Officer had recommended that roll top fencing should be installed around the building to create a definable space between it and the Recreation Ground. She had written to the agents for St. John's College to ascertain its views but had not yet received a reply.
Mrs Green, of the StartRite Kindergarten, explained that the fencing would also encompass the control box for the floodlighting and the manhole covers thus providing extra protection for these areas which had also suffered from vandalism. It was envisaged that two gates would be installed to the proposed fencing and both the Kindergarten and the Parish Council would be key holders. Mrs Green reported that the cost of the project would be likely to be in the region of £8000 but that half of this amount had been secured as a grant from the Community Warden budget, and that Cllr. Snelling had advised the Parish Council to submit an application to his Individual Members Grant allocation which had received new funding from April. After discussion it was proposed by Cllr. Oakeshott, seconded by Cllr. Jupp and agreed by all Members that the Parish Council would provide the sum of £2000 to underwrite the project until the result of the grant application was known, this amount to come from the Recreation Ground fencing budget and the grant from the Strood Rotary Club.
The Clerk reported that Zurich Municipal had agreed to pay for repairs to the roof, guttering and fascias of the Pavilion. Members agreed that it would be better to defer this work until the fencing had been installed to give better protection.
Cllr. Goring reported that a blockage to the drainage system of the Pavilion had caused raw sewage to back up and flood the Recreation Ground. A football match home fixture had been cancelled on health and safety grounds and a drainage contractor had been employed on an emergency basis to excavate with a digger on a Saturday to clear the problem. It was discovered that debris had been thrown into the drain and a beer can and tennis ball wedged into the pipe. The matter had been reported to the Police and a crime number obtained. Members were in agreement that a claim should be made to the Insurers as the cost of the repair was £1885.28.
Celebration of the Queen's 80 th Birthday.
The Clerk produced samples of mugs supplied by Rimmington Vial for customisation by the Parish Council to celebrate the 80 th birthday of the Queen. The cost of each mug would be £3.25, but Members decided that it was unlikely that the children would appreciate such an artefact and that the money budgeted would be better spent on a project that would benefit the whole village. As other Parishes were not marking this special occasion it was proposed by Cllr. Goring, seconded by Cllr. Wright and agreed by all Members that this money should also go towards the provision of the roll top fencing and that a plaque should be installed making reference to the Queen's birthday.
Annual Parish Assembly 2006.
Members endorsed the decision to ask Spectra Press to produce the 2006 Newsletter which had been held at the 2005 price, other quotations having been received from D and A (£996.00) and BHF Graphic (£630.00). The Clerk circulated a draft copy of the newsletter which would be received back from the printers within a couple of days and delivered by the Scouts at the weekend. Members agreed to help with the delivery of the remaining booklets as in previous years.
Those Members who were available agreed to meet at the Memorial Hall at 3.30 p.m. on 20/4 to prepare for the Annual Parish Assembly that evening. The exhibition of rural housing proposals would be on display at the back of the Hall and PC Ridley would speak on the Speedwatch system.
Higham Gardens for Pleasure Competition 2006.
Discussion amongst Members took place regarding possibly extending the judging to include allotments this year but it was felt that this was moving away from the original sentiment of the competition which stated that the gardens should be "seen by the passer-by". It was hoped that Morton Grey would judge the competition again this year, and the Chairman asked for Members to help produce the short list as in previous years.
Cllr. Jupp reported that the appeals by the travellers at White Post Lane, Sole Street, had been withdrawn and accordingly they now had until October 2008 to vacate and restore the land to its former condition, which was an excellent result for both the local residents and Gravesham Borough Council. The ballot of existing council tenants on the possible transfer of the housing stock had been adjourned until October. If it went through the new name would be the Thameside Housing Association. The Home Secretary had accepted Kent's case to stay as a single strategic police force although it would continue to collaborate with neighbouring forces on issues such as cross-border crime.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that a Meeting of the Joint Transportation Board had taken place last week. Due to insufficient support from local residents it had been decided not to extend the current Controlled Parking Zone in Lower Higham. Mr Wybraniec had been asked to prepare a report with possible solutions to bring back for discussion at the next meeting of the Board in October, following his recent site meeting in the village to look at Traffic Management issues. The interactive road signs to the Chalk Road and double yellow lines to Villa Road had now been placed as high priority and additional measures would be taken to alleviate traffic congestion at Higham Primary School. Resigning on the Wainscott By Pass and B2000 would be put in hand and the feasibility of a weight restriction for Villa Road and Forge Lane would be investigated. Delays and diversions to the A2 were expected from July when work would commence on road widening. The Tour de France cycle race would pass through Higham along the A226 on 8 th July 2007.
Cllr. Grey reported that on three known occasions cars had driven over the grass verge rather than stopping at the chicane near to the entrance to the Memorial Hall car park.
Cllr. Saunders reported that more graffiti had appeared to the post box in Lower Higham and that the frame of the old road sign still required removal. Medway Council had installed a road sign showing the boundary of Medway at the entrance to Lower Rochester Road, near to its junction with the B2000, and local residents had complained that it was an eyesore. Cllr. Waugh felt that it was sited on Gravesham land and Cllr.Saunders agreed to inform the residents accordingly.
Plans were available for the following planning applications which had been received and reviewed by the Planning Committee:-
Appln. no. 20060111 K. Whiffin, Plot 1, 29, Telegraph Hill
Relocation of detached double garage previously permitted under planning permission reference number GR/2004/661.
Appln no. 20060121 N. Irvine, 3, Briar Dale.
Construction of new roof with dormer extension in front roof slope and conversion of the roof space into two bedrooms and shower room/wc.
Appln. no. 20060144 Mr & Mrs T. Wade, 3, Beech Grove
Erection of single storey rear and side extension to provide a granny annexe comprising living room, bedroom and bathroom.
Appln. no. 20060216 Mr & Mrs Jenken, 16, Highwood Close
Erection of first floor side extension to form a bedroom with ensuite bathroom.
Appln. no. 20060168 Mr & Mrs Shepherd, Land between 2, Gore Green Cottages and "Sharanda", Gore Green Road
Outline application for the erection of a detached dwelling.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the planning application for two cottages to the Chequers P.H. car park had been passed subject to the provision of a pavement and the car park remaining open at all times which necessitated the removal of the military vehicles.
Cllr. Saunders reported that both she and Cllr. Hinks had attended a recent meeting of the Area Committee. None of the other Parishes were planning any form of celebration for the Queen's 80 th Birthday. All Parishes, but Vigo, seemed interested in the part-ownership of a Speedwatch system, but there were concerns about where the equipment might be stored and how it would be transported from one area to the other.
c. Memorial Hall.
Cllr. Goring reported that the anticipated target start date for the building works to the Hall of 26/5 now seemed doubtful as legal paperwork still had to be completed.
d. Multi-Purpose Games Area.
Cllr. Goring reported that if the roll top fencing to the Pavilion was to be installed the style of the control box cover would not have to be so heavy duty.
e. Recreation Ground.
Cllr. Goring reported that the whereabouts of the position of one of the original manholes to the Pavilion drainage could not be traced. Both Cllr. Grey and Mrs Green offered to loan metal detectors to try and trace the location.
f. Parish Environment Committee.
Cllr. Jupp reported that at the present time the Committee had undertaken to update the Risk Assessment and to investigate a General Emergency Plan.
Cllr. Waugh asked for permission to spend a total of £150 out of the Rights of Way budget to install an additional kissing gate and this was agreed.
h. Governors of Higham Primary School.
Cllr. James reported that the fall in the school roll from 270 pupils last year to 241 this year meant that during this academic year the school would have 9 classes. From September 2007 the planned admission number would reduce from 38 to 30 which would allow for children to be taught in 10 classes of a reasonable size. The resulting 3 vacant classrooms would be used to accommodate "before and after" school activities. The school house was now empty and the newly appointed Site Manager had started refurbishing prioritised areas of the school. Due to the resignation of the Chair of Governors, Cllr. James had been appointed to the position of Chair, having held the position of the representative of the Parish Council on the Governing Body for the past 10 years. School pupils were celebrating the Queen's 80th birthday by studying certain aspects of her life over a 20 year period and presenting their findings to a special school assembly for invited guests to be held on the Friday before the Summer Fayre on 24/6. A tea party would be held in the afternoon.
i. Merston Court.
The Chairman reported that Merston Court celebrated 25 years on 5/5. The club now had 4 diabetics which meant that sweets had to be made with a low sugar content.
The Clerk presented the quarterly financial statement for the period 1/1/06 to 31/3/06. She asked for approval for the items shown on the agenda plus an amount of £197.30 for J.A.Stanley for the preparation of the 2006 newsletter, and £684.34 for administration expenses for the period 1/1/06 to 31/3/06, this being proposed by Cllr. Oakeshott, seconded by Cllr. Jupp and agreed by all Members.
1 st Higham Scouts (Sect. 137/139 grant - newsletter delivery) 50.00
Mrs M. Davies (talk at APA - Sect. 150(2) L.G.Act 1972) 30.00
Lesley Topping (food for APA - Sect 150(2) L.G.Act 1972) 150.00
George Webb Finn ( ½ year rent for Recreation Ground) 125.00
K.A.P.C. (2006 subscription and Local Council Review) 969.61
Clerk's salary (1/1/06 - 31/3/06) 1209.00
Exps. - use of office (1/1/06 - 31/3/06) 227.50
Clive Stanley (webmaster services 1/12/05 - 28/3/06) 120.00
K.A.P.C. (notices) 13.22
1 st Main Drain Ltd. (drainage problem to Recreation Ground) 1885.28
Higham Village Sports Association (Sect. 137/139 grant) 250.00
Higham Brownies (Sect. 137/139 grant) 100.00
Higham Cub Pack (Sect. 137/139 grant) 100.00
Higham Age Concern (Sect 137/139 grant) 300.00
St. John's Church (Sect. 137/139 grant) 250.00
It was proposed by Cllr. Goring, seconded by Cllr. James, and agreed by all Members that the Clerk's salary should be increased to £4992 per annum w.e.f 1/4/06. The expenses for the provision of an office would remain unchanged at £910 per annum.
Members unanimously agreed to increase the rents for allotment plots w.e.f. 1/4/06. A single plot would now cost £7 each , two to four plots would cost £6.50 each and five or more plots would remain at £6.00 each.
The correspondence folder had been available for perusal by all Members from 7.00 p.m. on that evening, but the Clerk drew Members' attention to the following items:-
1. Members unanimously agreed to the provision of a raffle prize for the Higham School Summer Fayre on 24/6.
2. Members agreed to add the existing Parish Lighting to the new Kent Highway Services contract providing it retained the same conditions as under the existing Parish Lighting Agreement.
3. Members noted the date of the 2005/2006 Audit as 5/6/06.
4. Members agreed to proceed with the registration of the allotments with the Land Registry for a fee of £30.
To note the date of the 2007 Annual Parish Assembly.
This was given as being Thursday,19 th April 2007 at 7.30 p.m.
To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.
This was given as being Monday, 8th May 2006 at 7.30 p.m. for the Annual Parish Council Meeting, followed by a Parish Council Meeting.
Any Other Business.
The Clerk drew Members' attention to e-mails she had received regarding recent illegal activities at Great Crabbles Wood. As this area was outside the Parish it was agreed that the details should be passed direct to Shorne Parish Council.
Cllr. James reported that 2006 was the 350 th Anniversary of the Shaves Charity. He had found information which he offered to pass to the Clerk for inclusion on the website or in the 2007 Parish Newsletter.
Members agreed to send a letter of appreciation to WPC Duffort and her Police colleagues who had secured sentences and fines for youngsters who had taken part in vandalism within the village.
The Chairman agreed to speak with WPC Alison Duffort regarding the continuing problem of dogging which was taking place to the slip road alongside the A226, now that young families had moved into Isis Cottages.
There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 10.00 p.m.
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