Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the January 2006 Meeting

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Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Monday, 9th January 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, 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: 4 Parishioners

Apologies for absence: Received from WPC Alison Duffort.

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, 28th November 2005, were confirmed and signed.

Matters arising from the Minutes.

The Clerk reported that:-
a. P. 768 Matters Arising - Bus shelter to Lower Higham. Verbal confirmation had now been received from David Eaton of KCC that the Parish Council could proceed with this initiative. Cllr.Waugh agreed to meet on site with a representative of Queensbury Shelters.


b. P. 768 Matters Arising - Christmas lighting. All three lights were eventually lit for the majority of the Christmas period. All connections would be checked before the lights were removed later in the week and put into storage for next year.


c. P. 768 Matters Arising - Grant for Pavilion. The double steel front doors to the Pavilion  had been fitted in December and it was hoped that the fire doors would be completed in January. As Mrs Green's insurance company had agreed to insure her contents, the Kindergarten had started the new term back in the building. An official re-opening to which the press would be invited would be held once the works were complete.

d. Contact had been made with Mr Tunde Olatunji - Passenger Link Manager with the Rail Passengers Council. who wished to establish an informal contact at grass roots level for Higham Station. It was agreed that the Parish Council would keep him informed  regarding the car parking situation and Chris Fribbens would advise regarding the level of train services offered.

e. P. 770 Councillors Matters. The mobile Police Station had visited the village on 9/12 as planned.

f. The B.T. telephone box to Mountbatten Avenue had eventually been removed.

Parishioners' Matters.
Les Pearton, of Chalk Road, reported that the fence, with barbed wire at the top, opposite the Memorial Hall car park, was now laying across the pavement where the children walked to school.

Traffic problems to village centre.
The Clerk had circulated copies of a report prepared by Cllr. James to all Members prior to the Meeting. Cllr. James took Members through this document and after discussion it was agreed to arrange a site meeting to discuss traffic management issues in the village with representatives from Kent Highways, and the North Kent Traffic Management section of Kent Police. The Clerk reported that Kent Highways was in receipt of a petition from local residents regarding the problem of cars parking on the pavement to the centre of the village and requesting the provision of a crossing point near to the Post Office. Cllr. Waugh agreed to take photographs of vehicles parked near the Gardeners Arms junction at various times of day, should they be needed, and Cllr. James agreed to produce an agenda for the Meeting. The Clerk also reported that Norman Bateman had confirmed that a bid had been submitted for the resurfacing of School Lane in the new financial year, and that discussions were underway with Gads Hill School regarding a travel plan. He had also suggested that a representative of the Parish Council should meet with Anne-Marie Hannam, Senior Transportation Engineer, to show her the proposed sites for the village signs, and Cllr. Jupp agreed to do this on our behalf.

To discuss the 2006 Parish Newsletter and Annual Parish Assembly.
The Clerk reminded Members of the reports outstanding for this year's newsletter. It was agreed that Lesley Topping would be asked to cater for 50 for this year's Annual Parish Assembly. The Chairman passed the Clerk a list of public speakers used by the W.I. and Cllr. Oakeshott also had details of others who were recommended, so that a booking could be made for the Assembly in April.


Councillors' Matters.
County.
Cllr. Snelling reported that the Budget settlement of 2% for Kent had in fact translated to 0.3% in cash terms, and the County Council was now hoping to make further economies by looking at the workforce and freezing vacancies. It was believed that this and other measures could generate in the region of £10 million. Cllr. Snelling reminded Members that that both the County and Borough Councils were unable to raise Council Tax by more than 5%, but it was widely expected that the increase for the new financial year would be in the region of 4% - 5%. The numbers of children in Primary Schools continued to fall, especially in the urban areas, and this might lead to certain schools being closed and amalgamations taking place. In the secondary sector new community schools would be built with shared facilities under a PFI (Private Financial Initiative) arrangement. A White Paper was expected within 2-3 weeks in an attempt to try and abolish both the County and Borough/District Councils in Kent and replace them with just two for the whole County.

Borough.
Cllr. Jupp reported that the Parrock Street car park would be closed within the week and the numbers of parking spaces available would be reduced to 200 for a total of 29 weeks.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that a Rural Housing Meeting had been held on 19/1. Following a complaint from a Parishioner the high kerb outside the Post Office had been replaced by a slope and since that time vehicles had been parking on it and causing an obstruction. The broken road sign at the junction of Villa Road with Brice Road had now disappeared. At the recent Joint Transportation Board Meeting a £15 one-off charge for residents in Lower Higham had been agreed for the continued implementation of the Controlled Parking Zone.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that Hunt Equestrian at Buckland Farm had arranged for Father Christmas to travel around the village in his sleigh before returning to his Grotto where children were each given a gift and adults welcomed with mulled wine and mince pies. It was agreed to write and thank the Company for this gesture and to publicise the event next time on the Parish Council website and in "The Bridge". Hunt Equestrian was applying to increase its opening hours as the rug washing side of the business was extremely busy. Local residents had raised no objection.


Parish.
Cllr Waugh reported that she had had the pleasure of distributing the Shaves Charity allocation again this year and 9 Parishioners had each received £40. She had reported a large number of potholes in the village and all but 5 had been repaired quickly under the Lengthsman scheme. Cllr. Waugh also reported problems with rubbish from the Fish and Chip shop being left on the pavement. It was agreed to write to both of the take-away food shops in the Parade to remind them to clear up after their customers.
Cllr. Saunders reported the appalling state of the road surface to the Lower Rochester Road, which it was agreed would be discussed at the forthcoming Site Meeting. The road sign to the Chalk Road had still not been removed, and local residents were still awaiting a letter from the Borough Council following the recent meeting which had been held regarding the Controlled Parking Zone.
Cllr. James reported that he had liaised with residents in Cobham regarding a Licence Application for The Leather Bottle which they were opposing.
Cllr. Wright reported that the Edward VII post box to the brick wall at the end of his drive had been stolen late that afternoon. Members were concerned at this development having been warned last year that such items were stolen to order and disposed of on ebay. It was suggested that Royal Mail be asked to replace the Victorian post box at St. Mary's church and display it in Higham Library for safekeeping. The Chairman agreed to speak to the Vicar accordingly.
Cllr. Hinks reported complaints regarding a fridge/freezer which had been left in a front garden in Chilton Drive for nearly two months. It was agreed to write to the parishioner concerned asking him to have it removed.
Cllr. Grey reported that leaves to the path by The Knowle could be dealt with by the Lengthsman scheme.
Clive Stanley, Webmaster, reported that there had been a total of 1569 visitors to the website in December. This had brought the number of hits over the last 12 months to 16,119. A total of 46% of these had been from the USA or Canada with Charles Dickens related enquiries being the most popular through search engines. Clive hoped to put the Hunt Equestrian Christmas photos of Father Christmas on the website.
The Clerk reported that following discussion with the Vicar it had been agreed that it would not be suitable to place the proposed memorial seat from the Jarrett Family on the grass verge outside the churchyard wall at St. Mary's Church as this area was used for parking when a burial was taking place. After discussion Members agreed to revert back to the original suggestion that it might be placed on the grass triangle. The Clerk was asked to advise the family and to ask if the seat was to be placed on a base of any sort. It was understood that the family would contact local residents, and if they were agreeable to this proposal, a formal application for it to be sited at this location would be made at a later date.

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. 20050988 Red Admiral Homes, Land adjacent to The Chequers Inn, Canal Road.
Outline application for the erection of a pair of semi-detached dwellings.

Appln. no. 20051034 Marshlands Pharmacy Ltd., 4, School Lane.
Change of use of dry cleaners to a pharmacy (Medical and Health Centre Class D1) incorporating the installation of a new shopfront.

Appln. no. 20051082 Lisa Cardy, 45, Steadman Close.
Erection of two storey side and single storey rear extension to form a granny annexe comprising lounge, dining room, kitchen and bathroom/wc at ground floor level with two bedrooms and shower room/wc at first floor level and an enlarged kitchen/dining room for main dwelling.

Cllr. Oakeshott produced a preliminary outline drawing suggesting a use for the land beyond the Station car park for "local needs housing". It was expected that the 20 flats envisaged would be available to rent, but this scheme was not to be confused with the current Rural Housing initiative. Members were divided over this proposed scheme, concerned that the land was not apparantly suitable for local housing but realising that this might reduce the vandalism to the Station car park. As Cllr. Oakeshott had been asked to indicate the initial views of Parish Council Members a vote was taken, with 6 votes for the scheme, and 5 against.

c. Memorial Hall.
Cllr. Goring reported that the Contractors selected to carry out the building works to the Memorial Hall had gone into receivership. An alternative company had offered to hold the same price and dates and the National Lottery had agreed to them carrying out the work. The tentative date for work to commence on the Hall was 26/5 (half term). Suzanne Green had been asked to clear her equipment from the store room whilst building works were in progress. Members agreed that Mrs Green should not be asked to accommodate Hall bookings in the Pavilion for this period. Hirers would be asked to make alternative arrangements for the duration of the works, but additional charges could be incurred. Cllr. James reported that the Primary School hoped to have appointed a new Site Manager by
the middle of February and the School hall would probably be available to hire. The Clerk was asked to arrange an alternative venue for both the July and September Meetings.

e. Recreation Ground.
Cllr. Goring reported that a recent safety report on the Recreation Ground had highlighted several areas of concern. These included the safety surfacing underneath the swing unit and the old picnic tables which had bolts exposed where planks of wood had been  removed. The Clerk reported that S.E.Arc Welding had quoted the sum of £840 plus VAT to replace these with metal slats. It was agreed that the Clerk should ask the Park Rangers for a quotation to remove the old picnic tables completely, as the two new picnic tables provided by Gravesham Borough Council had now been returned following repair.

g. G.R.O.W.C.
Cllr. Waugh reported that she had been awarded a grant of £1850 under the Community Paths Project. She had now applied for an old stile to be replaced on a circular walk, and Mr Batchelor had agreed to pay for a new gate and fencing.

Finance.
The Clerk presented the quarterly financial statement for the period 1/10/05 to 31/12/05.
She asked for approval for the items of expenditure shown on the agenda plus the sum of £84.00 to Clive Stanley for Webmaster services, £567.10 to PDW Contracting Services Ltd for installation and dismantling of Christmas lighting and £594.09 for Admin. Expenses for the period 1/10/05 to 31/12/05, this being proposed by Cllr. Oakeshott, seconded by Cllr. James and agreed by all Members.

Southern Water (allotments) 176.49
Trojan Engineering (locking post/gate repairs to Recreation Ground) 141.00
Clerk's salary (1/10/05 - 31/12/05) 1209.00
Expenses - use of room as office (1/10/05 - 31/12/05) 227.50
Kent County Council (Barrie Howes salary - April 2005 - March 2006) 1266.30


Members unanimously agreed to award the Chairman an ex-gratia payment of £30.00 towards costs incurred at the Christmas Meeting of the Parish Council, for catering for invited guests, Members and Parishioners.
It was proposed by Cllr. Oakeshott, seconded by Cllr. James and agreed by all Members that the Chairman's allowance for 2006 should be raised to £100, to reflect catering costs and to reimburse for correspondence and telephone calls.


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 item:-
1. Several Councillors agreed to complete a consultation document from Kent Police Authority outlining policing priorities for the Financial Year 2006/2007.


To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.
This was given as being Monday, 20th February 2006 at 7.30 p.m.


Any Other Business.
None was brought to the notice of the Meeting.


There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 9.59 p.m. 

 

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