Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the February 2006 Meeting

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Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Monday, 20th February 2006 at 7.30 p.m.

Present: Cllr. Mrs J.M.Papadopulos (Chairman)
County Councillor: Cllr. M. Snelling.
Councillors:- J.D.Goring, J.A.Grey, Mrs J.Hinks, Mrs P. Oakeshott (also Borough) Mrs S. Saunders, Mrs A. Waugh, and S.Wright.

In attendance: 19 Parishioners
Apologies for absence: Received from Cllrs Howard, James and Jupp.

WPC Alison Duffort
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, 9th January 2006, were confirmed and signed, following an alteration to P. 776 under "planning" to read " a vote was taken with 6 votes for the scheme and 5 against " and again to P. 776 under "Memorial Hall" to read " The tentative date for the work to commence on the Hall was 26/5 (half term)".

Matters arising from the Minutes.


The Clerk reported that:-
a. P. 773 Matters Arising. Bus shelter to Lower Higham. Members agreed to proceed with the quotation for a Winchester cantilever shelter in moss green for the sum of £1570 plus VAT as outlined at the recent site meeting with Queensbury Shelters attended by Cllr. Waugh. It was decided to have polycarbonate panels, no perch seat and for the company to remove the old
shelter.

b. P. 773 Matters Arising. Doors to Pavilion. Following the fitting of the two fire doors, the Pavilion was officially re-opened by Adam Holloway, M.P. on 17th February.

c. P. 774 Traffic problems. Higham Village Signs. Cllr. Jupp had met with the Senior Transportation Engineer with Kent Highways Service, Anne-Marie Hannam, and looked at the five proposed sites for the village signs.

d. P. 775 Parish. Royal Mail boxes. It was understood that the Collections Manager at Royal Mail, Maidstone was dealing with our letter and photographs regarding the stolen post box to Hermitage Road.

e. P. 775 Parish. The fridge/freezer to Chilton Drive had now been removed.

f. P. 775 Website news. The website had now received a total of 17,242 hits and the highest monthly total of 1870 was recorded in January. The Higham Youth Club website was now featured as a link.

g. P. 775 Parish. Memorial Seat to Lower Higham. Several letters and telephone calls had been received from local residents objecting to the proposed site for the Memorial Seat in Lower Higham. Following discussion, Cllr Waugh agreed to enquire from the County Council if it might be possible for the family concerned to install a new sign for a circular walk on the marshes with an attached memorial plaque, in place of the seat.

h. P. 776. Memorial Hall. The Vicar had kindly agreed that the Church Hall could be used for Parish Council Meetings whilst the Memorial Hall was closed for building works this summer.

i. P. 776 Recreation Ground. The Park Rangers had quoted the sum of £356.25 to remove the two old picnic tables to the Recreation Ground. It was agreed to ask Trojan Engineering for an alternative quotation for their removal before reaching a final decision.


Parishioners Matters.

A large number of residents from the lower end of School Lane were present at the Meeting, concerned at the presence of surveyors in the area the previous week who, it was understood, were carrying out a road survey at the lower end of School Lane adjacent to the land which was under consideration for the next phase of Rural Housing in the village. Cllr. Grey drew Members' attention to comments made in the 2003 Annual Parish Newsletter which stated that such initiatives would be for no more than three houses and would be built on small pieces of land, as had been the case for the first such development at Isis Cottages, and he reminded Members that this was green belt land. Those residents present expressed their concern that they understood that as many as 7 houses and 2 flats might be considered for this site, with an access road, and that such development would involve cutting down trees and losing wildlife, particularly nightingales, and they believed that it would devalue their homes and add traffic to an already busy road.

Cllr. Oakeshott reminded those present that the Rural Housing Needs Survey had proven a need for housing for young couples within the village, 17 of whom were living with parents and of these 6 had children. Although this site was green belt the Government dispensation for rural housing meant that 1/3 of the site could be considered for rural housing and the rest would remain as at present. The plans currently with the Planning Department were only tentative as the landowner had not yet indicated if they would consider selling the land, and if this happened a full planning consultation with local residents would take place, with the plans being available for public inspection within Higham Library. The Government would meet all building costs and more units were under consideration at this location, than at Isis Cottages, as the piece of land was bigger and it would not be economically viable to build just three units. It was anticipated that the units would be a mixture of "rent to buy", mortgaged and rented and all applicants would have to satisfy the criteria laid down by the Parish Council which included a qualifying period of having lived in the village for at least 10 years and already be registered on the Borough Council Common Housing Register.


Those Parishioners present asked that this matter should be deferred whilst consideration was given to alternative sites within the village but Cllr. Oakeshott confirmed that no other suitable sites had been found despite advertising. A suggestion was made that the land beyond the Station car park should be used for rural housing but Cllr. Oakeshott commented that land purchased for rural housing schemes was not bought at market prices. With regard to this site she confirmed that the Borough Council was to meet with the planning consortium concerned to discuss their outline ideas for social needs housing at this location before a decision was taken as to whether or not they would consider a formal planning application. 

Cllr. Oakeshott reported that an objection had been lodged to a planning application for two properties to be built in the car park of the Chequers Public House and invited all residents to attend the site meeting which had been arranged for noon on 25/2.
Mr Taylor, of Martins Close, asked why the Crime Figures for Higham were no longer published in The Bridge, and it was noted that a representative from Kent Police had not attended the Meeting that evening.


 Cllr. Snelling reported that with the proposal to move the Gravesend Police Office to a new out of town site at Northfleet he was pressing for more community policing measures and had asked for Higham to be considered for one of the new PCSO's who were being appointed.

To evaluate the success of the Highways Site Meeting held on 16th February 2006

Copies of a report of the site meeting had been circulated to Members prior to the Meeting. Members of the Parish Council had joined with representatives from Kent Police and the Highways department to view potential danger spots in the village. Double yellow lines, width restrictions, traffic calming measures and a one-way system through the village had been discussed. It was agreed that the exercise had been helpful to highlight those traffic issues already notified to Kent Highways and Cllr. James was thanked in his absence for the excellent agenda which he had prepared. Mr Wybraniec had promised to respond in due course, but Members noted that budgetary restraints and lack of manpower would play an important part in any forthcoming decisions by the County Council.
A parishioner asked why the sensor to the traffic lights to the top of Villa Road was facing the garage.

Annual Parish Assembly and Parish Newsletter 2006.
The Clerk reported that the Newsletter Sub Committee would shortly be meeting to review the copy material. Spectra Press Ltd. had agreed to hold their 2005 price for producing the newsletter and a further two quotations were awaited. Clive Stanley would photograph the new Isis Cottages for the front cover of the booklet. Members unanimously approved the payment of a grant of £50 under Sections 137/139 of the Local Government Act 1972 for the 1st Higham Scouts to deliver the newsletter to the main part of the village.

Margaret Davies had been booked as the speaker for the Annual Parish Assembly with a humorous talk entitled "A Way with Words". Her fee for the evening would be £30 with no travelling expenses. Lesley Topping had been asked to cater for a total of 50 people for a cost of £150. The Clerk reminded Members that all expenses for the Annual Parish Assembly would be covered under Section 150(2) of the Local Government Act 1972, and they were unanimously approved. Members agreed to ask PC Ridley if he would present an item on Speedwatch to gauge the support of Parishioners.

Celebration of the Queen's 80th Birthday.
Members felt that some sort of souvenir should be given to every child in the village. The Clerk was asked to investigate the cost of china mugs and report back at the next Meeting.

To note the formation of a new website monitoring development on the Hoo Peninsula.
Members noted the details of a new website set up by Joan Goddard which had been launched for people to find out more about plans to develop the Thames Gateway, air their views and put forward ideas. The address was www.communitywatchdog.co.uk.

Councillors' Matters.
County.

Cllr. Snelling reported that the County Council increase in Council Tax for the new financial year would be 4.75%. The direct grant for education had been increased by 6.8% which it was hoped would ensure that there were no cut backs. The effect of falling birth rates on Primary School rolls continued to be closely monitored with those with a 15% surplus of places facing the possibility of merger or closure At present there were some 90 schools across the county in this category. The Gravesham area was currently being assessed for the provision of Traveller sites, particularly the demand for pitches in Council run sites. At present there was only one such site at Denton but others might need to be found if a need was identified. The appeal against the Traveller site at Sole Street would shortly be heard.

Borough.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the Borough Council increase in Council Tax was to be 4.9%. In a recent survey of residents some 84% stated that Community Safety was their main concern and extra wardens and PCSO's would be taken on to cope. A Thameside Transport Meeting would be held at Bluewater on 8/3.

Parish.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that no more dog bins would be available until May but that stick on signs regarding picking up dog litter were currently available from the Borough Council. The anti-graffiti team would again visit the village on a clean-up operation. The low bridge sign to Canal Road was now at an angle and overgrown with ivy. Complaints had been received that the road outside Two Gates Kennels always flooded after heavy rain and that the grating outside Higham Library was choked with mud.
Cllr. Waugh reported that five more potholes to Hermitage Road had recently been repaired.

REFRESHMENT BREAK

Reports.

a. Planning.
Plans were available for the following planning applications which had been received and reviewed by the Planning Committee:-

Appln. no. 20060062 Mr & Mrs K. Hoiles, 20A, Telegraph Hill.
Demolition of existing conservatory and erection of part two storey part single storey rear extension to form dining room at ground floor level with enlarged bedroom at first floor level.


Appln. no. 20060072 Mr & Mrs J. Woods, "Hill Farm", Taylors Lane.
Demolition of lean-to extension and erection of two storey extension on the west (rear) elevation to form boot room, covered porch and garden room at ground floor level with two enlarged bedrooms at first floor level.


Appln. no. 20060077 Mr M. & Mrs C.Stock, Higham Hall, Taylors Lane.
Erection of replacement entrance gates varying from 2.3 - 2.7 m in height and additions to the top of the existing brick piers.


Appln. no. 20060039 Mr & Mrs C. Hooper, 14, Peggotty Close.
Erection of first floor side extension to form a bedroom with ensuite shower room/w.c.


Appln. no. 20050984 K.J.Marsh, Buckland Farm, Chalk Road.
Application for variation of condition 8 of planning permission reference number GR/2004/323 for change of use to B1; to extend the hours of operation to allow the business to operate between the hours of 07.00 hours until 22.00 hours Monday to Friday, 08.00 hours until 18.00 hours on Saturdays and to operate on Sundays between the hours of 10.00 hours and 14.00 hours.

b. K.A.P.C.
Cllr. Saunders reported that she would attend the Area Committee Meeting later in the week with Cllr. Hinks.

c. Memorial Hall.
Cllr. Goring reported that there was no further news as yet as to a definite start date for the building works to the Memorial Hall.

d. Multi-Purpose Games Area.
Cllr. Goring reported that the Committee hoped to look at re-establishing the control box for the floodlighting in the near future.

e. Recreation Ground.
Cllr. Goring reported that the new picnic tables, recently returned to the Recreation Ground by the Borough Council following repair, had now been graffitied.

g. G.R.O.W.C.
Cllr. Waugh reported that Meetings were currently taking place between the Landowner, a local resident and the Contractors regarding the Community Paths Project. The plans for the Gravesham Local Development Framework would be on public display at Towncentric on 3rd and 4th March and this included those for the widening of the A2. She urged all those present to attend and have their say.

j. Higham Youth Club.
Cllr. Saunders reported that the Lord Lieutenant of Kent would be paying a visit to Higham Youth Club on 2/3 and it was hoped that he would be presenting a cheque for £750 for portable floodlighting to Barrie Howes. Members unanimously agreed to grant the Youth Club £60 under Sections 137/139 towards the setting up costs of the new website


Finance.

The Clerk asked for approval for the items of expenditure shown on the agenda, this being proposed by Cllr. Oakeshott, seconded by Cllr. Wright and agreed by all Members.

British Telecommunications plc (broadband) 114.18
EDF Energy 1 Ltd. (festive lighting costs) 29.40
Higham Youth Club (grant towards setting up costs of website - Sect. 137/139) 60.00
J.B. Industrial Doors Ltd. (steel anti-vandal doors for Pavilion) 5185.28
Action with Communities in Rural Kent (2006 subscription) 35.00

Correspondence.

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 noted that the Borough Council was considering extending the current CPZ to Lower Higham.
2. Members were concerned at the prospect of losing sight lines to the Gravesend Road if a traffic island was turned into a school crossing point and asked that the letter from Mr Craggs be forwarded to Mr Bateman for his comments before a decision was taken.
3. Members agreed to place discussion regarding Speedwatch and appointment of PCSO's on the agenda for the forthcoming Meeting of Parish Chairmen on 6/4.

To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.
This was given as being Monday, 3rd April 2006 at 7.30 p.m.

Any Other Business.
Cllr. Goring enquired regarding progress with the reinstatement of the Dickens sign to the A226 and the Clerk reported that the necessary forms had been completed and returned to the Contractor concerned for the work to be put in hand.


There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 10.10 p.m.

 

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