Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the April 2008 Parish Council Meeting

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Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting, held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Monday, 7th April 2008 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,

                                                L.M. Pearton, Mrs M. Scott, B.Sutherland,  S.N.Walton,

                                                and S. Wright.                                                                                                                                                                                                      

In attendance:                         PCSO Darren Fielding

                                                Community Warden Steve Gray

                                                27 Parishioners.                                                .

Apologies for absence:            Cllr. Mrs P. Oakeshott (also Borough)

                                                P.C. Steve Cole.

 

The Chairman thanked all those who had attended the concerts held in the village on 4th and 5th April in aid of the Mayor of Gravesham’s Charity Fund. In spite of her recent illness, the Mayor had attended each concert.

                                                                                       

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, 25th February 2008, were confirmed and signed, following an apology from the Clerk that Cllr. Mrs M. Scott had been left off the list of attendees. In future an attendance list would be circulated for Members to sign.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Matters arising from the Minutes.

Including an update of actions from the last Minutes, the Clerk reported that:-

a.    P. 866 Matters Arising. Reactive road signs. Mr Wybraniec had reminded Members that these signs were installed as a last resort in areas where all else had failed and which

       had a poor safety record.  Higham did not fit into this criteria and such signs would be inappropriate. Members noted these comments but the Clerk was instructed to write

       again to Mr Wybraniec pressing for another Meeting to discuss the installation of a sign to be paid for by the Parish Council as a proactive rather than a reactive response.

b.    P. 866. Parishioners’ Matters . St. John’s Road. It was understood from the Parish Spreadsheet that the pavement resurfacing would be completed during May. A

       letter would be sent to the local residents.

c.    P. 866 Recreation Ground. Borough Council officers were now advising the Parish Council regarding the play equipment.

d.    P. 867  The Annual Parish Newsletter was to be delivered to the Clerk the following day and would then be passed to the delivery teams.

e.    P. 867  The Chairman had made a presentation to the prizewinners of the Higham Essay competition at a school assembly the previous week.

f.    P. 867 Request to re-route the 136 bus. Cllr. Sweetland had now obtained the name of the person to write to at KCC regarding this request.

g.    P. 868  GBC Horticultural Services had now recommended a tree contractor to trim the conifers to the Recreation Ground.

h.    P. 868 Primary School. The Walking Bus had been launched on 1/4 and the new tabards now had the name of Higham Parish Council printed on them.

i.    Gravesham Parking Services Department reported that they are to recruit  additional wardens who will be able to spend more time in the village with the CPZ and double

      yellow lines.

 

Cllr. Grey reported that the reinstated double yellow lines (p. 868 refers) had now been dug up again and required reinstating.

Cllr. James reported that of the reported potholes to Crutches Lane only one had been filled in (P. 868 refers)

The Chairman reported that both Crutches Lane and the A226 had been gridlocked with traffic queuing to collect children from Gad’s Hill School and Community Warden Steve Gray agreed to monitor the situation.

 

Parishioners’ Matters.

Kate Brown, of The Braes, reported that she was one of several parents who lived in the village who had been unable to get their children into Higham Primary School in September.

Television crews had covered the story the previous week. Cllr. James explained that the planned admission number for the school now stood at 30 and places had been awarded to 25 siblings of existing pupils who had priority over local children under the current admission policy. Cllr. James reiterated that neither the Governors nor the Management of the school had any influence over this selection and suggested that the families concerned should take up the matter with the Admissions Department direct. The Chairman reported that she had been advised that some families had given the addresses of grandparents who lived in the village to qualify for a place and Cllr. James agreed to look into this situation. Cllr. Grey observed that only last year the Parish Council had gone on record as saying that Rural Housing schemes within the village for families were vital to maintain the numbers at the village school, and now it seemed as though there may be no places for the children anyway.

In answer to a question from Mrs Howes, of St. John’s Road,  Mr Deed, President of the Village Club, confirmed that his Committee had no plans to sell the allotment land at the present time.

Mr Kentsbeer, of School Lane, reported that lorries had been observed accessing the Canal Road industrial site outside the hours stipulated by the operators licence. Cllr. James confirmed that these rules only applied to businesses operating from the site and not other vehicles which might be delivering. Mr Kentsbeer also reported that the verges in School Lane, where parking had taken place, were in a poor state and mature shrubs had been pulled up.

Alan Gull, of Chequers Street, asked for an update on the planning application for light industrial units at land beyond Higham Station. Cllr. Grey reported that a total of 31 letters of objection from local residents had been received by the Borough Council which had now referred the matter to the Secretary of State. The Parish Council had submitted a letter of objection, but also a list of conditions that they would wish see attached to the permission should it subsequently be granted. Diane Humbles, of School Lane reported that the receipt of the planning letters from the Borough Council had been affected by a postal strike and some Parishioners had not received them.

Angela Bailey, of Lake Drive, highlighted the dangers of walking down the approach road to the station with all the vehicles parked there and the Chairman agreed to speak to the staff at the station regarding this problem.

Mr Hariharan, of Meadows Stores, again pressed for the alleyway next to his property to be cleared and a parking space for the elderly and disabled to be provided outside his premises. He asked the Parish Council to support his application for better lighting and a CCTV camera as suggested by the police on a recent visit.

A prospective occupier of one of the part rent/part buy properties at Jupp Court highlighted the difficulty of obtaining a mortgage for only 80% of the property at the present time. He expressed concern that he understood that homes on the development had gone to people from outside the village. Cllr. Sweetland confirmed that the prospective occupiers of the five part rent/part buy properties all came from within the village. The rented units had not been so popular but had also been offered to Higham applicants. However some applicants had decided not to proceed and therefore these properties were now occupied by people who had been previously living outside the village but who qualified under the local connection rule as they all had a member of their close family living within the village.

Mr Chilmaid, of Steadman Close, reported that the nettles were again growing through the path in his road. 

Steve Gray reported that the recent Crime Prevention Day had been extremely successful with in excess of 150 people visiting the library over a four hour period. The next Police Surgery would take place on 10/4 from 19.00 to 21.00 hours.

 

BREAK FOR REFRESHMENTS

 

To discuss the feasibility of a commuter bus service from Higham to Cliffe.

A discussion document prepared by Cllr. James had been sent to all Members prior to the Meeting. Cllr. James explained that he had calculated a fare which would be attractive to would-be commuters taking into consideration the depreciation costs of a car but not including car parking costs at the station. Members discussed the proposed passenger questionnaire which was to ascertain the times that most commuters travelled from Higham Station in the morning and returned at night. It was suggested that a box for completed questionnaire forms could be placed in the station. Cllr. Howard volunteered to help interview commuters. Cllr. James asked Members to consider the document and contact him by the end of the month so that a final draft of the questionnaire could be prepared. The Clerk agreed to check the status of the planning application for land beyond the Station car park.

 

To finalise arrangements for the 2008 Annual Parish Assembly.

It was agreed that Cllrs. James, Sutherland, Walton and Wright would meet with the Clerk and the Chairman at the Hall at 3.30 p.m. to put out the chairs and tables. The Chairman would open the Hall when the food was delivered at 6.30 p.m. and provide the drinks and the glasses.

 

Higham Gardens for Pleasure Competition 2008

The Chairman reminded Members that at the next Meeting they would need to sign up for roads to prepare the short list for this year’s competition. It was hoped that Morton Grey would again judge the competition on our behalf.

 

Councillors’ Matters.

County.

Cllr. Snelling reported that the Government was currently conducting a study into the need for a Lower Thames Crossing and he had been involved in discussions regarding where it might be located and if it would be for road, rail and freight. Representatives from both Kent and Essex County Councils had flown over the route by helicopter the previous week. The A2 widening works were currently ahead of schedule and it was hoped that the new Londonbound  carriageway would be in use by May, followed by the coastbound. A feasibility study had been carried out into the use of the “sandwich land” which would be given green belt protection, and might become a linear park with a commuter park and ride facility. Cllr. Snelling confirmed that he was unable to represent parents at appeals into primary school admissions but that if an independent panel found that someone should go to a school it could override the KCC decision. In answer to a question from Cllr. Grey, Cllr. Snelling confirmed that the County Council was continuing to search for suitable sites for traveller provision within the borough to cater for those currently at Sole Street as well as those with only temporary permission.

Cllr. James agreed to send an e-mail to Cllr. Snelling regarding the outstanding lorry route signs on the Wainscott By Pass and this matter would be discussed at the next Meeting of Parish Chairmen.

 

Borough

Cllr. Sweetland reported that the Discover Gravesham Heritage Festival 2008 would be held over the Whitsun school holidays. A St. George’s Day Parade involving local schoolchildren would take place in Gravesend Town Centre and the Vaisakhi celebrations would take place next weekend.

 

Parish

Cllr. James reported that motor cycles with no number plates were being ridden at all times of day in the lane and into the Great Crabbles Wood. Steve Gray agreed to combine fly tipping checks with spot visits to this area. There was now only one light to the underpass.

Cllr. Pearton reported that youths in a white car were frightening horses and riders in School Lane, by playing loud music. He agreed to pass the registration number of the vehicle to the warden.

Cllr. Sutherland reported that a dropped kerb to one side of the entrance to the garages in Villa Road had been removed following footway repairs. The Clerk agreed to report the matter to Kent Highways to have it reinstated.

Cllr. Grey reported that the edges to several speed cushions to School Lane were crumbling away leaving a series of potholes.

 

Reports.

a.    Planning.

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

 

Appln. No. 20080111   The Railway Tavern, Chequers Street.

Demolition of existing kitchen store; installation of new French doors leading to open smoking area in remodelled beer garden at rear incorporating small part of car park into garden.

Appln. No. 20080142   Plot 5,6 & 7, Land At School Lane.

Installation of a total of five satellite dishes on the roofs of the new dwellings.

Appln. No. 20080108   1, Ash Crescent.

Erection of two storey side and single storey front and rear extensions to form enlarged lounge, enlarged kitchen and porch at ground floor level with walk-in wardrobe and bathroom/wc at first floor level.

Appln. No. 20080249   Long Reach, Elm Close.

Erection of single storey side and rear extension to form garage/workshop, enlarged utility room, enlarged kitchen and lounge.  

 

Cllr. James reported that he had prepared a discussion document on the future administration of the planning committee  It was agreed that the Clerk would speak to other local Parish Councils to compare good practice in time for discussion at the next Meeting.

e.   Recreation Ground.

      The Clerk reported that she had obtained two quotations for a replacement slide but was

      waiting to meet on site with Stuart Alford of GBC to assess their suitability and the

      upgrading of the safety surfacing. The Borough Council had advised against an

      Astroturf surface as it wore too easily.

 

h.    Governors of Higham Primary School

       Cllr. James reported that the problems with the planned admission to the school  in

        September had been dealt with earlier in the Meeting. A total of 11 children out of a

        total of 33 had gained places at grammar schools but several children had been awarded

        places at Swan Valley in place of Meopham.

 

j.     Higham Youth Club.

       Joanne Raff reported that the behaviour of the old members had improved . Numbers

       were now in the region of 17 since several new Members had joined. She had arranged

       for the British Transport Police to speak to the youngsters, and a disco was planned.

       An outstanding amount of £268 was still owed to the Memorial Hall for damage to a

       door and Members unanimously agreed to make an immediate grant of £130 to the Youth

       Club to cover half this cost, with the remainder being paid in the next financial year.

       Joanne reported that those Members who were over 14 years of age had expressed an

       interest in having their own Meeting night but she understood that there was not a spare

       evening at the Memorial Hall. Cllr. Walton agreed to speak to the Management

       Committee to see if the Club might be able to meet on a Monday evening when it was

       observed that the Main Hall was always vacant.  

 

Finance.

The Clerk presented the quarterly financial statement for the period 1/1/08 until 31/3/08. She asked for approval for the items shown on the agenda plus the KCPFA subscription of £15, this being proposed by Cllr. James, seconded by Cllr. Sutherland and agreed by all Members.

 

1st Higham Scouts (Sect. 137/139 grant – newsletter delivery)                                        65.00

Lesley Topping (food for APA – Sect.150(2)L.G.Act 1972)                                          175.00

St. John’s College Cambridge (½ year rent for R.G.)                                                      125.00

K.A.L.C. (2008 subscription and Local Council Review)                                               1090.64                 

Clive Stanley (webmaster services 31/12 to 10/3)                                                           143.50

J. A. Stanley                                                                                                                   216.70

Allianz Cornhill Insurance plc (renewal premium)                                                           1129.23

Clerk’s salary (1/1/08 – 31/3/08 – net amount)                                                             1513.84          

Clerk’s salary (1/1/08 – 31/3/08 – tax element)                                                               426.98

Expenses – use of room as office (1/1/08 – 31/3/08)                                                       227.50

Mrs J. Raff (Youth Leader – 27/3 to 31/3 – 30 hours)                                                     234.00

Senokian Solutions Ltd. (gov.uk renewal)                                                                          78.73

British Heart Foundation (B.Howes -  Sect. 137/139 grant)                                             100.00 

Kent and Medway Walking Bus Group(Sect. 137/139 grant)                                          500.00                                

Higham Cubs (Sect. 137/139 grant)                                                                                 100.00

Higham Brownies (Sect. 137/139 grant)                                                                           100.00

Age Concern (Sect. 137/139 grant)                                                                                  325.00                              

St John’s Church (Sect. 137/139 grant)                                                                            300.00                                

Sports Association (Sect. 137/139 grant)                                                                        1000.00         

Eagles F.C.  (Sect. 137/139 grant)                                                                                    300.00 

EDF Energy 1 Ltd. (Christmas lighting supply)                                                                  112.90

 

Members unanimously agreed to increase the Clerk’s salary to spinal column point 22, as recommended at the Budget and Finance Meeting, with effect from 1/4/08.

 

Members unanimously agreed that allotment rents should be raised by 5% to the nearest 50p for the forthcoming financial year.

 

Correspondence.

The correspondence folder had been available for perusal by Members from 7.00 p.m. on that evening, but the Clerk drew Members’ attention to the following items:-

  1. Members agreed to provide a raffle prize for the Higham School Summer Fayre.
  2. Members unanimously agreed to make a grant of £150, under Sections 137 and 139, to 1st Higham Scout Group for the purchase of new cookers for camp.
  3. Members noted that the Scouts hoped to plant the Centenary Tree at Dickens Court at their AGM on 20/6.
  4. Members noted the date of the audit – 27/5/08.
  5. Members agreed that the mounds within the Pavilion fencing could be removed by Suzanne Green providing that the spoil was removed from the site.

 

To note the date of the 2009 Annual Parish Assembly.

This was given as being Thursday, 16th April 2009 at 7.30 p.m.

 

To note the dates of the next Parish Council Meetings.

These were given as follows:-

Annual Parish Assembly – Thursday, 17th April 2008 at 7.30 p.m.

Annual Parish Council Meeting and Parish Council Meeting – Monday, 12th May 2008 at 7.30 p.m.

 

Any Other Business.

The Clerk reported that the two co-option candidates had been invited to attend the May Meeting of the Parish Council.

 

 

There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 10.20 p.m.

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