Higham Parish Council
Minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly 2007
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Minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Thursday, 19th April 2007 at 7.30 p.m.
Present: Cllr Mrs J.M.Papadopulos (Chairman)
County Councillor:- Cllr. Mike Snelling.
Councillors:- J.D.Goring, J.A.Grey, A.L.Howard,
M.L.James, Mrs. M.Scott and S.Wright.
In attendance: 40 Parishioners
Kent Community Warden Steve Gray,
John Britt, Public Health Manager, Gravesham Borough Council.
Apologies for absence: Received from Cllrs. Oakeshott, Saunders and Waugh.
WPC Kerri Mulrooney.
The Meeting was opened by the Chairman, Cllr.Jennifer Papadopulos, who warmly welcomed all those present and thanked them for attending. She advised them that she was altering the order of the agenda as Cllr. Mike Snelling had to leave early to go to another Meeting.
Report from County Council Representative.
Cllr. Mike Snelling reported that in spite of £40 million of savings the unfavourable Government grant settlement, which was a reduction of 5.3%, had meant that the Council Tax had to rise by 4.95%. The long awaited Report into Council Tax by Sir Michael Lyons, which it was hoped would offer some redress to the South East, had been an enormous disappointment with its main recommendations being either rejected or sidelined at the present time. The business enterprises within KCC were performing well, producing £3 million for the last financial year. The Government White Paper had backed away from imposing unitary authorities within Kent and as a result there was now an agreement between KCC and the twelve District/Borough Councils to work together to make savings. Work on the £150 million programme to rebuild all of Gravesham’s secondary schools (“Building Schools for the Future”) was now well advanced. Decisions regarding the selection of traveller sites under the Government’s new planning legislation had been deferred by GBC until after the May elections. A continuing lack of cash to implement badly needed traffic safety measures and repairs to both roads and pavements was a major problem, as was anti-social behaviour, not just in Higham but in Gravesham as a whole. In closing Cllr. Snelling paid tribute to the late Colin Jupp who was a personal shining example of “service above self”, and who would be sadly missed by the village.
Report from District Council Representative.
As Cllr. Oakeshott was unable to attend the Meeting as she was escorting the Mayor of Gravesham to Germany on a Civic Visit she had prepared a written report for Parishioners.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the new Rural Housing initiative in School Lane was now progressing after initial difficulties. It would provide 7 houses and 2 flats for young families in the village. A new Transco gas pipeline would be constructed from the Isle of Grain to Shorne and a map of the route would be available for inspection during the interval. The Borough Council had been awarded a “Safe Car Parks” award and the Towncentric Information Centre had been awarded a “Silver Award” and was in competition with Wakefield for the “Gold Award”. A £100 million contract had just been signed for the Heritage Quarter which would include underground parking, flats, a market square and a hotel. The appeal for the Chalk Road site would take place at the Civic Centre on July 31st.
The Gravesham Council Tax would rise by 4.89% and the Borough Council had spent £125,000 replacing roofs on the houses in Higham. The refurbished Civic Centre foyer now included a café, disabled access and computer facilities. The waste and recycling figures for the Borough had now risen to 24%. School Lane and the pavements near the shops and Gardeners corner had recently been resurfaced. Cllr. Oakeshott reminded those who needed a postal vote in the May 3rd Election to apply immediately.
Mr Mead asked Cllr. Snelling what the KCC position was regarding a future Thames Crossing and how a debate could be influenced before a decision was made. Cllr. Snelling reported that the County Council had decided to carry out a study into the type of crossing point that might be needed, but the Government was now to carry out an initial appraisal on what form it should take and where it should be located. Cllr. Snelling remained convinced that this must be a favoured location but expressed concern that the crossing would open the way to development and swamp the rural area. Cllr. Snelling urged Parishioners to write to him on the subject so that he could feed these comments back to the County Council in time for discussion once the draft report had been received.
Mrs James asked if any primary schools would be re-built under the BSF initiative. Cllr. Snelling reported that if this was to happen it would be the feeder schools but it was unlikely as the funding would probably run out before that happened.
The Chairman introduced John Britt, Public Health Manager with Gravesham Borough Council who gave a presentation on the success of The Grand Healthy Living Centre in Gravesend (www.thegrand.org.uk).
The Chairman thanked Mr Britt for attending the Meeting.
The Chairman reported that she now understood that Towncentric had won the “Gold Award” and been judged to be the best in the Country.
The Chairman reported an increase in vandalism to the village. Bolt croppers had been used
on the big slide to the Recreation Ground and as the resulting damage had been unable to be repaired the slide was to be removed next weekend. The swings had also had to be removed from the swing unit following the safety surfacing being damaged beyond repair by being kicked. The Chairman appealed for Parishioners to work together and to report all incidences of vandalism to the police. She expressed sadness that the Parish Council had received the resignation of Barrie Howes as Youth Leader, following an appeal for help from the parents of those youngsters attending the club, which had gone unanswered.
The Chairman thanked Dougall Goring for all the work he had undertaken on behalf of the village as a highly valued Member of the Parish Council over many years. As he had decided not to seek re-election in May she presented him with a shrub for his garden. She also thanked Sylvia Saunders for her years of service which had ended when she had moved from the village earlier in the year.
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, 20th April 2006, were confirmed and signed.
Matters Arising from the Minutes.
The Clerk reported that the second phase of Rural Housing within the village was to be known as Jupp Court in appreciation of the loyal service provided to the village by the late Cllr. Jupp. Completion was expected early in 2008. Trials for the Walking Bus at Higham Primary School would shortly get underway. The new village signs were at long last in position and as work had been overseen by Cllr. Jupp shortly before his death they would form a lasting tribute to him.
In his capacity as Chairman of Governors for Higham Primary, Cllr. James reported that the necessary funding had been secured for the Walking Bus and it was hoped that this initiative would soon commence trials on a Wednesday before the number of days was increased.
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 2007" 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. 23 )
The draft simplified statement of accounts for 2006/2007 (P.6) was agreed by all those present, this being proposed by Cllr.James, and seconded by Cllr.Howard . Those present noted that the balance to be carried forward into the new financial year was £15,364.08 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 the Governors of Higham Primary School (P.26)
Report of the Kent Association of Parish Councils (P.9)
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.
Mr Chilmaid highlighted continuing problems with cars being parked to the top of Villa Road with one wheel on the kerb. Community Warden Steve Gray reminded those present that the police could affix a letter to offending cars which were an obstruction and appealed for more information. It was hoped that the double yellow lines would soon be installed to the top of Villa Road.
Mrs Coulson reported that commuters were parking on the road at the bottom of School Lane making it difficult to get over the speed humps.
Mr Mead enquired if there had been any conclusions regarding the feasibility study into
car parking to Villa Road. The Chairman reported that the results of the site meeting were still awaited.
Mr Wallace expressed concern that there was not a suitable forum within the village for the youngsters to put their views forward and felt that the best way to solve present anti-social behaviour problems within the village was for policing not to be aggressive and the youngsters to be listened to. Mr Chilmaid observed that young people did attend Parish Council Meetings and were prepared to ask for things however at one such meeting a young person had to be arrested for abusive behaviour. Barrie Howes, former youth leader, highlighted the amount of support and time given to the youngsters by the Parish Council.
Any Other Business
None was brought to the notice of the Meeting.
BREAK FOR BUFFET TABLE AND REFRESHMENTS
The Chairman welcomed Bob Ogley who gave a talk entitled “Spirit of Invicta”.
To note the date of the next Annual Parish Assembly.
This was given as being Thursday, 17th April 2008 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. She hoped to see as many of them as possible supporting the Tour de France on 8th July especially in Dickensian costume.
There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 10.15 p.m.
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