Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the May 2007 Annual Parish Council Meeting

and Ordinary Parish Council Meeting

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Minutes of the Annual Parish Council Meeting followed by a Parish Council Meeting held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Monday, 14th May 2007 at 7.30 p.m.

Present: Cllr. Mrs J.M.Papadopulos (Chairman)
County Councillor:- Cllr. M. Snelling
Borough Councillor:- Cllr. B. Sweetland.
Councillors:- J.A.Grey, A.L.Howard, M.L.James, Mrs P.O. Oakeshott (also Borough), L.M.Pearton, Mrs M.A.Scott, B.Sutherland, S.N.Walton, and S.C.Wright.

In attendance: 5 Parishioners.
P.C. Steve Cole, P.C.S.O. Darren Field, Kent Community Warden Steve Gray.
Apologies for absence: Received from Cllr Anne Waugh.

The Meeting was opened by the Clerk who welcomed all those present to the Meeting.
Prior to the commencement of the Meeting the Clerk received the signed Declaration of Acceptance of Office, and Register of Members’ Financial and Other Interest forms from all Councillors.


The Clerk called for nominations for the position of Chairman by secret ballot. Cllr.Papadopulos was elected as Chairman by a majority vote.


The Chairman asked for nominations for the position of Vice Chairman by secret ballot. Cllr. Wright was elected as Vice Chairman by a majority vote.

It was proposed by Cllr.Pearton, seconded by Cllr. James and agreed by all Members that the following should be elected to Committees (lead member in capitals where applicable).
a. Allotment Committee.
Cllrs HOWARD and Papadopulos (2 MEMBERS)
b. Recreation Committee.
Cllrs. Pearton, Walton and WRIGHT (3 MEMBERS)
c. Planning Committee.
Cllrs. Grey, JAMES, Oakeshott, Walton, Waugh and Wright (6 MEMBERS).  The Chairman would remain as an ex-officio member of this Committee.
d. Parish Environment Committee.
Cllrs. Grey, Howard, Pearton, Sutherland, Waugh and Wright (6 MEMBERS)
e. The Budget and Finance Committee.
It was agreed that the whole Council should perform these duties at a separately convened Meeting(11 MEMBERS)
f. Parish Newsletter Committee.
Cllrs. Oakeshott, Papadopulos and Scott (3 MEMBERS)
g. Higham Gardens for Pleasure Committee.
It was agreed that all Members would be asked to provide suggestions for a short list from which the final judging would take place (11 MEMBERS).

These were agreed as follows:-
a. K.A.P.C. - Cllrs Scott and Sutherland.
b. Memorial Hall Management Committee - Cllr. Walton.
c. Local Transport Advisory Committee (Village Transport Representatives) - Cllrs. Howard and Wright.
d. Merston Court Day Centre - Cllr. Papadopulos.
e. G.R.O.W.C. - Cllrs. Waugh and Wright.
f. Multi-Purpose Sports Facility - Cllr. Walton
g. Higham Youth Club - Cllrs. Papadopulos and Sutherland.
h. C.P.R.E. - Cllr. Waugh.
i. Governing Body of Higham Primary School - Cllr. James.
j. Police Advisory Committee - Cllrs. Grey and Howard.
k. Chalk Liaison Group - Cllrs. Pearton and Scott.
l. Press Officer - Cllr. Scott.
m. Rural Housing - Cllr. Oakeshott.

6. The Chairman thanked Cllr. Anne Waugh, in her absence, for her help in providing refreshments at Meetings.

The Meeting closed at 8.05 p.m.


It was proposed by Cllr.Wright seconded by Cllr Oakeshott and agreed unanimously by all Members that Standing Orders, including amendments for the Annual Parish Assembly, Financial Regulations, and Delegated Powers for the Planning Committee, should be adopted.
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, 2nd April 2007, were confirmed and signed.

The Chairman welcomed Cllr. Bryan Sweetland as the new Borough Council ward member for Higham and congratulated both he and Cllr. Oakeshott on their election success.

The Chairman introduced P.C. Steve Cole and P.C.S.O. Darren Field, both of whom were to be working in Higham. She reminded those present that the telephone number to contact the team was 07800 675306.

Matters arising from the Minutes.
Following an update of actions from the last Minutes, the Clerk reported that:-

a. The Highways Spreadsheet had been suspended for the month of April to allow time for reported items to be attended to.
b. P. 828 Parish. School Lane Rural Housing. As reported at the Annual Parish Assembly, the new rural housing site to School Lane was to be known as “Jupp Court” in memory of Colin Jupp.
c. Web Site report. Over the past year there had been some 25,016 hits to the web site with 2913 visitors in April.

Parishioners’ Matters.
Dougall Goring, of The Larches, reported that the street light in the vicinity of The Knowle was covered by vegetation.
Lynn Hampson, of Telegraph Hill, reported that it was planned to present a 287 signature petition from S.A.V.E. (Stand Against Vandalised Environments) to the full Gravesham Borough Council Meeting in June in an attempt to influence the Local Development Plan and eventually make this a “selected area”, which it was hoped would protect it from inappropriate development in the future. Mrs Hampson highlighted the fact that a property on the hill had twice been built in an incorrect position from the plans which had been passed. A site meeting had now been arranged for Thursday evening and she urged Parish Councillors to attend. Steve Gray, Kent Community Warden, reported that there had been two break-ins to the Memorial Hall the previous week, and that the kitchen had been trashed. He reminded those present of the forthcoming AGM of the Youth Club on 22/5 which would see the election of the Management Committee which was essential for both the Constitution and insurance purposes. He would run the club until the summer break, by which time it was hoped that a new Leader would have been appointed. Cllr. Sutherland had also agreed to offer his support.

Youth Leader for Higham Youth Club.
The Chairman reported that one applicant had already come forward expressing an interest in this position. After discussion, it was agreed that the vacancy should be advertised on the website, noticeboards and around the village for a limited period. It was agreed that Cllrs. Scott, Howard, and Pearton would form a Committee, with Steve Gray, to review any applications received after this date.

Tour de France.
The Clerk reported that both a burger van and ice cream van would be available for the Tour de France. It was agreed that these should be parked to the lay-by in Irvine Road and Steve Gray agreed to investigate if he could obtain some bollards to reserve this space. It was suggested that both tradespeople should be asked to make a donation towards a project within the Parish. A European television crew would be filming from within the grounds of Gads Hill School. Cllr. Oakeshott alerted Members that the A226 would now be closed from 7.00 a.m. until 1.00 p.m. on the day of the race.

Matters Arising from this year’s Annual Parish Assembly.
The Clerk reminded Members that items raised at the Assembly included how a debate could be influenced on a possible Lower Thames Crossing by writing to KCC, the problems of parking on the village roads (especially the top of Villa Road and bottom of School Lane), and what the correct forum would be for the youngsters of the village to put their views forward. The Chairman felt that the turnout for this year’s Meeting had been good.

Prior to the break, the Chairman offered congratulations and proposed a toast to Cllr. Pat Oakeshott who was to become Mayor of Gravesham the following evening.


To finalise arrangements for the 2007 Higham Gardens for Pleasure Competition.
The Chairman reported that the competition would be judged following the next Meeting and she urged Members to sign up for roads to produce the short list. Dougall Goring agreed to help with the competition again this year.

To arrange dates for Parish Council Meetings in 2008.
The following dates for Meetings were agreed:-
Mondays:- 7th January, 25th February, 7th April, 12th May (Annual Parish Council Meeting with Parish Council Meeting), 7th July, 8th September, 13th October, 10th November (Budget and Finance only) , and 1st December (Christmas Meeting with the Mayor of Gravesham).
The Annual Parish Assembly would take place on Thursday, 17th April.

The remaining dates for Meetings in 2007 were as follows:-
Mondays:- 10th September, 8th October, 12th November (Budget and Finance only) and 26th November (Christmas Meeting with the Mayor of Gravesham).

Councillors’ Matters.
Cllr. Snelling reported that he had nothing to add since his report to the Annual Parish Assembly. Cllr. James highlighted the dissatisfaction of the Parish Council with the response prepared by Mr Wybraniec concerning outstanding highways issues in the village, in particular the need for a 20mph speed limit in the vicinity of Higham Primary School and the installation of double yellow lines to the top of Villa Road, and added that it was believed that the village had been left out whilst neighbouring parishes were having money spent on them. The Clerk agreed to send all relevant paperwork to Cllr. Snelling so that he could take up the matter on our behalf.

Cllr. Sweetland reported that the Meopham North election had been postponed until 21/6 due to the death of one of the candidates and this meant that Cllr. Snelling would not be able to be elected as Leader of the ruling group at Gravesham at the present time in spite of the current 10 seat majority. Cllr. Oakeshott had been nominated to become Mayor of Gravesham the following evening. Cllr. Sweetland expressed pleasure that there were now some 20 new councillors on the Borough Council who were young people.
The Chairman reminded Members that Higham Parish Council did not bring politics into village matters.

Cllr. Oakeshott reported that she had received three complaints regarding nuisance motor bikes.(Steve Gray urged all those present to keep nuisance diaries and dates to pass on to the Police). A Public Exhibition of the A2 diversion work was to be held at Shorne Country Park.
The Free Tree Scheme was again being operated by the Borough but all trees planted under this initiative would have to be visible to the passer-by. The re-instatement of the yellow lines to School Lane was now complete but it was unlikely that the part of School Lane behind the shops would be resurfaced.
Cllr. James reported that the lights to the underpass were not lit as they had melted following a stolen vehicle being set alight at this location.
Cllr. Howard reported that despite the resurfacing of School Lane the road still flooded at the junction of School Lane with both High View and St. John’s Road.
Cllr. Sutherland reported that the pavement outside Merston Court was slippery and had caused a lady to fall.
Cllr. Grey reported complaints from residents in Villa Road, near to the traffic lights, who had been unable to access their driveways due to cars being parked across them.
Cllr. Pearton reported that the hedge outside Alexander Cottages had now been removed, but that bricks still remained to the lay-by in Chalk Road and were now being thrown onto the railway line. Steve Gray agreed to investigate this matter further.

a. Planning

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

Appln. no. 20070303 Orange PCS Ltd., Land adj. To White House Farm, School Lane.
Replacement of existing 15m high mobile phone tower with a 17.5m high tower and installation of additional 3 antennas and 0.3m dish and two additional cabinets in existing compound.
Appln. no. 20070305 M. Page, 14, School Lane.
Construction of pitched roof on existing flat roof garage and a new gable end beside conservatory.
Appln. no. 20070321 Mr & Mrs J. Whitefield, North Leigh, Gravesend Road.
Erection of single storey side and rear extension to form sun lounge/dining area, bathroom and enlarged kitchen.
Appln. no. 20070328 Mr & Mrs M. Ward, 52, Walmers Avenue.
Erection of single storey extension on each side to form bedroom and two en-suite bathrooms and erection of a car port at the side.
Appln. no. 20070347 Mr & Mrs J. Woods, Hill Farm, Taylors Lane.
Change of use of agricultural building to a garage with storage in the roof space.
Appln. no. 20070371 59, Bull Lane.
Erection of two storey side extension to form lounge at ground floor level with bedroom at first floor level and erection of new front porch.
Appln. no. 20070386 6, Brice Road.
Erection of two storey side extension to form a playroom and enlarged living room at ground floor level with bedroom at first floor level.

Cllr. Oakeshott drew Members’ attention to a suggestion for the use of the land at Higham Station, whereby car parking for up to 200 cars would be provided in conjunction with a total of 6 B1 class business units. This improvement would allow Network Rail to lease out the parking facility which would be monitored and policed. Although Members were keen not to increase traffic to this area they were aware that if this suggestion were to be submitted as a formal planning application, and permission was refused, it was possible that it might be allowed on appeal. It therefore would be sensible to discuss restrictions to accompany the business use if a planning application should be submitted in the future.

c. Memorial Hall.
Dougall Goring reported that two break-ins within a couple of days had caused several thousand pounds worth of damage and would be claimed for on the insurance.

d. Multi-Purpose Games Area.
Dougall Goring reported that the tennis posts had been stolen. A set had now been replaced so that one court could be used.

e. Recreation Ground.
The Clerk reported that, following an injury caused by vandalism to the large slide with a pair of bolt croppers, an on-site welding company had tried to carry out a repair but had been unsuccessful. The large slide had now been removed. In addition the swings had been removed from the frame by Gravesham Borough Council due to further vandalism to the safety carpeting. The small slide had also suffered damage but this had been able to be repaired. Concern had been expressed that the opening between the new Pavilion fencing and the locking post was now insufficient to allow emergency vehicles onto the field. In addition the storage container for the Recreation Ground was due to be delivered in the near future and it had been suggested that the locking post and a bollard might be able to be swopped. Dougall Goring reported that the steel bollards had been sunk into a cubic metre of concrete and this would not be possible. It was suggested that the container should be offloaded at an angle over the top of the bollard. Members granted permission for a “5 A Side” football tournament on the Recreation Ground on 19/5.

i. Merston Court.
The Chairman reported that at the AGM the previous week Dot Figg had retired from the Committee.

l. Rural Housing.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the foundations had now been laid at the School Lane site and it was expected that building works would be completed early in 2008. Cllr. Grey reported that the local residents now had a good rapport with the Site Manager, Mr Davis.

The Clerk asked for approval for the items shown on the agenda, plus an additional amount of £282.00 for M.J.Read for Audit preparation, this being proposed by Cllr. James, seconded by Cllr. Howard and agreed by all Members.

British Telecommuncations plc (broadband) 114.16
E.H.Brown Fencing Limited (Pavilion fencing) 10594.98
K.C.P.F.A. (2007 subscription) 15.00
C.P.R.E. (2007 subscription) 27.00
Expenses for use of room as an office (1/1/07 – 31/3/07) 227.50
Mrs J.M.Papadopulos (APA costs under Section 150(2) of L.G.Act 1972) 99.39
Mrs P.Oakeshott (APA costs under Section 150(2) of L.G.Act 1972) 58.50
Spectra Press (2007 Newsletter) 1521.63
South East Arc Welding Co.Ltd. (attempted repair to vandalized slides) 705.00

To approve the Annual Return for Local Councils for the Year Ended 31st March 2007.
Copies of both the Annual Return for Local Councils in England and Wales, and accounts for the financial year ended 31st March 2007, had been circulated to Members prior to the Meeting. Both documents were approved unanimously by all Members present.
Members noted the comments made by Nigel Wharton regarding the Council conducting a review once a year of the effectiveness of its system of internal control. It was suggested that this should taken place at the same time as the Risk Assessment was reviewed in April and for the findings to be considered by the Budget and Finance Committee when they met in November each year.

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 Audit would take place on 4/6/07.
2. The Chairman agreed to attend a discussion session with Keith Ferrin on 6/7.

To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.
This was given as being Monday, 2nd July 2007 at 7.30 p.m. in St. John’s Church Hall.

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

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


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