Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the December 2008 Parish Council Meeting
[Draft Minutes - to be confirmed at next Meeting]

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Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting, held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Monday, 1st December 2008 at 7.30 p.m.

Present:                                   Cllr.Mrs J.M.Papadopulos (Chairman)

                                                County Councillor:- Cllr. M. Snelling.                                                  

                                                Councillors:- J.A.Grey, A.L.Howard,  M.L.James,

                                                Mrs A. Mendzil, Mrs P. Oakeshott (also Borough),

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

                                                and S. Wright.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

In attendance:                          Kent Community Warden, Steve Gray

                                                Sgt. Andy Lewis

                                                P.C. Alex McNeil

                                                PCSO Darren Fielding

                                                22 Parishioners                                                

Apologies for absence:            Cllr. Sweetland (Borough)


The Chairman welcomed the Mayor of Gravesham, Cllr. Ken Jones and the Mayoress, Mrs Evelyn Jones to the Christmas Meeting of the Parish Council.


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, 20th October 2008, were confirmed and signed


Parishioners’ Matters.

In view of the large number of Parishioners present at the Meeting the Chairman moved straight to Parishioners’ Matters.

Mr Taylor, of Martins Close, asked if it might be possible to have bollards installed to the pavement to the bottom of Martins Close to deter commuter parking. The Clerk reported that these had already been requested on the last CSM Monitoring Sheet.

Mr Stuart Halls, of Lower Higham, and a large number of other residents, had attended the Meeting as they had learnt of a planning application for nine affordable housing units on Green Belt land to the Rear of the Chequers Inn P.H. Mr Halls expressed concern that this application could set a precedent for all Green Belt land within the village and, if granted, the owner might then try to develop the Public House and the car park which was at the present time the subject of a planning appeal. He also expressed concern that only a small number of local residents had been notified of this planning application by the Borough Council and was concerned that the qualification criteria set down by the Parish Council had not been adhered to during the recent allocation of units at Jupp Court.

The Chairman confirmed that the Parish Council had only received the planning application three days ago and had advised the Borough Council that its comments would not be submitted until the New Year. She reassured local residents that the Parish Council would listen to their views before a response was sent. Cllr. Oakeshott reminded Parishioners that the last Housing Needs Survey, completed in 2004, had highlighted the need for a total of 22

new dwellings and of these 11 were still outstanding following the completion of developments at Isis Court and Jupp Court.

Mr Collins, of Forge Lane, alerted Members to a coach which regularly travelled at high speed through the village in the early morning.. He also passed details of a Black Audi Sports car, which had been observed exceeding the speed limit, to Sgt. Lewis for him to target the offender.

Anne Waugh of Hermitage Road, advised Members of continued obstructions to public ROWs within the village and sought help to arrange for their clearance.


Matters arising from the Minutes.

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

a.   P. 894 Matters Arising. Installation of yellow lines to Old Watling Street. Kent Highways had reminded the Parish Council that a petition would need to be submitted for

      this request to be considered. Cllr. James indicated that he would be willing to arrange this.

b.   P.894 Highways Liaison Meeting. Cllr. James confirmed that although the road sign in the hedge could now be seen, the hedge and surrounding trees still required cutting back

      to the boundary of the Three Crutches Car Park.

c.   P. 895 Christmas lighting to the village. It had not been possible to install new sites for lighting this year as anticipated but some of the lights to the existing sites had already

      been installed.

d    P. 895 Clearance of pond. As St. John’s College had confirmed that it was not responsible for the pond at Lower Higham, the Reparations Team was carrying out a

      risk assessment before Christmas and would report back. Cllr. Oakeshott requested that Groundwork should be involved in this project.

e.   P. 895 Paul Gibbons had been invited to the next meeting.

f.   P. 897 Youth Club. No official response had as yet been received to our request for the use of the Memorial Hall for a second night for the Youth Club.

g.   Clive Gilbert had offered a selection of dates to talk with Members of the Planning Committee about the criteria to be considered when making comment on a planning


h.   Web site report. For the month of November the number of hits to the website was 2714, and since the move to the new internet service provider in June the rolling figure was



To formally adopt the Model Publication Scheme for the Freedom of Information Act.

It was proposed by Cllr Sutherland, seconded by Cllr. James and agreed by all Members that the Model Publication Scheme for the Freedom of Information Act be adopted with effect from 1st January 2009.


2009 Parish Newsletter.

The Clerk reminded Members to prepare copy material for the 2009 Parish Newsletter for submission at the next Meeting in January.


Wake up Gravesham 2009.

Cllr. Oakeshott outlined plans by the Borough Council to extend its Big Day Out to a whole week of events at the beginning of July to include the rural parishes.. Cllr. Oakeshott suggested the possibility of a Prom with an orchestra on the Recreation Ground with the cost being funded by an entrance fee. A barbeque and soft drinks could also be offered. It was agreed to further discuss this item at the January Meeting.


Councillors Matters.


Cllr. Snelling reported that an additional £17 million had needed to be found in the budget to cover the recent escalation of fuel costs, however the Government had agreed to pay for the asylum seekers. The review of Kent Highways was now complete and would be discussed in detail at the forthcoming Rural Neighbourhood Forum on 15/12. The Government report into the Lower Thames Crossing, which had been expected in November,  had been delayed. The Building Schools for the Future initiative would be going ahead in Gravesham. The County Council had given support to Gravesham Borough Council to enable the concessionary fares scheme to run from 9.00 a.m. and would continue to help for the forthcoming year. In answer to a question from Cllr. Grey, Cllr. Snelling confirmed that a total of 15 traveller sites were currently being sought across Gravesham but could give no assurances regarding the long term future of the site in Chalk Road.  In answer to a question from Cllr. Mendzil, Cllr Snelling confirmed that sites for suitable grounds for both Ebbsfleet United and Wasps were also being sought, but as 80% of the Borough land was in the Green Belt it was not an easy task. Cllr. Snelling was unaware of any reduction in grammar school places but confirmed that local schools continued to be oversubscribed.



Cllr. Oakeshott reported that Paul Gibbons had attended the recent PACT Meeting. The Conservation Officer required confirmation of the three trees to be saved in Norah Lane which were directly opposite Mariners Cottage.



Cllr. Walton reported that Higham Primary School had won an award for the top walking bus.

Cllr. Grey reported that the wooden posts to the verge in School Lane had still not been installed.

Cllr. Pearton reported that three street lamps to Chalk Road were not lit at the present time.

He also reported that a white van was parked on the corner outside the Gardeners Arms at weekends. PC McNeil agreed to look into the matter although he did not consider that the vehicle was causing an obstruction.



a.    Planning.

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

Appln. no. 20080907   Crutches Gate Cottage, Old Watling Street.

Application for Listed Building Consent for the conversion of the existing detached double garage at the rear into a dwelling involving the erection of a first floor level, demolition of part of an existing wall and erection of 1.8m high brick wall and wall mounted railings to the front and side boundaries and laying out of a car parking space at the side and two car parking spaces to the front of and for the existing Crutches Gate Cottage.

Appln. no. 20080906   Crutches Gate Cottage, Old Watling Street.

Conversion of existing detached double garage at the rear into a dwelling involving the erection of a first floor level, erection of 1.8m high brick wall and wall mounted railings to the front and side boundaries and laying out of a car parking space at the side and two car parking spaces to the front of and for the existing Crutches Gate Cottage.

Appln. no. 20070188   Gads Hill House School, Gravesend Road.

AMENDED DRAWINGS. Demolition of existing school hall and outbuildings and erection of part one and part two storey junior school and a three storey senior school; conversion of the mansion house (old school building) into a Dicken’s Visitors Centre on lower ground and ground floor level and four self contained one bedroom flats on first and second floors involving erection of new glazed entrance link; erection of maintenance shed and laying out of service yard; formation of car and coach park; improvements to Crutches Lane/Gravesend Road junction and improvements to existing vehicular access to the school along Crutches Lane.

Appln. no. 20080936   18, Charles Dickens Avenue.

Continued use of former verge beside farm track as residential garden and laying of timber decking.


Appln. no. 20080990   13, Colewood Drive.

Erection of two storey side extension, part two storey and part single storey rear extension, first floor front extension and conversion of the integral garage to form garage, utility room, kitchen, enlarged hall, store and cloakroom and enlarged lounge at ground floor level with two bedrooms, bathroom and enlarged bedroom at first floor level; erection of a canopy across part of the front elevation and construction of a chimney stack on the south side elevation.

Appln. no. 20081017   3, Carton Road.

Erection of single storey front infill extension and first floor extension to form entrance hall at ground floor level with three bedrooms, office/study, two ensuite bathroom/wc’s and shower room/wc at new first floor level.

Appln. no. 20081016   Land Rear of Chequers Inn, Church Street.

Erection of a total of nine affordable housing units with car parking provision, comprising two pairs of two storey, two bedroom semi-detached dwellings; a two storey terrace of three, two bedroom dwellings and an archway block with two, one bedroom self contained flats in the roof space, eight car parking spaces and vehicular access in the arch underneath.


h.    Governors of Higham School.

       Cllr. James reported that 10 applications had been received for the position of Headteacher at the school and shortlisting would be taking place.


j.     Higham Youth Club.

       Joanne Raff, Youth Leader, reported that last week 24 youngsters and 8 over 16’s attended the Club. She intended to write to parents to explain that the Police were regular

       visitors to the Club to visit the youngsters and to enjoy the tuck shop and not for any other reasons in case some youngsters were being put off attending.


n.    Kent Community Warden.

       Steve Gray reported that both Halloween and Bonfire Night had been quiet in the village. The problem of commuter parking to Martins Close had been reduced since Kent Police

       letters had been placed on windscreens. The new route for the Walking Bus from Lake Drive was now operational three times a week but additional helpers were urgently


       Sgt Andy Lewis confirmed that crime figures for Higham had shown a greater reduction than in Gravesham and congratulated the Youth Club which had undoubtedly played a

       part in this.



The Clerk asked for approval for the items listed on the agenda plus an additional £187.20 for Joanne Raff, this being proposed by Cllr. Scott, seconded by Cllr. James and agreed by all Members.


Administration Expenses (1/7/08 – 30/9/08)                                                            720.59

Nexus Data Systems Ltd. (increased webspace)                                                        50.23

Joanne Raff (Youth Work Provider Agreement – 27 hours)                                    210.60

Mrs J.M.Papadopulos (Chairman’s allowance)                                                        125.00

Higham with Merston PCC (Christmas leaflet – Sect. 137/139)                                75.00

Joanne Raff (balance of cost of damage to Memorial Hall door)                             130.00

Mrs P. Oakeshott (balance of funds raised for Mayor’s Charity Fund)                      60.47


Report from the Budget and Finance Committee Meeting held on 10th November 2008.

Copies of the report had been circulated to Members prior to the Meeting. Following discussion amongst Members it was proposed by Cllr. Howard, seconded by Cllr. Pearton and agreed by all Members that a precept of  £29,277.57  be requested for the financial year 2009/2010.


Internal Control and Audit System.

At the Budget and Finance Committee Meeting Members had reviewed the effectiveness of the current system of internal control and audit as required under Regulations 4 and 6 of the Accounts and Audit Regulations (2003) and found it to be satisfactory. Members therefore unanimously agreed that no changes were necessary at the present time.



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 noted that the informal hearing date for the appeal for the Chequers Inn would be on 3/2/09 at 10.00 at the Civic Centre.

2. Following complaints regarding parking at Higham Station, Members agreed that some form of enforceable parking restriction needed to be introduced to the approach road.

3. Members agreed to request patrons of the Slimming Club in Hermitage Road to park in a considerate manner following complaints from local residents.

4. Members noted opposition to the new parking bay outside Meadows Stores from a local resident. 


To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.

This was given as being Monday, 12th January 2009 at 7.30 p.m.


Any Other Business.

Cllr. Oakeshott reminded Members of the Rural Neighbourhood Forum to be held on 15/12.



Closing remarks by the Mayor of Gravesham.

Cllr. Ken Jones commented that he was impressed with the wide range of subjects discussed during the course of the Meeting and the closer relationship that the Members had with the residents than was possible in the urban area. He gave Members a resume of his Mayoral Year to date and commented that he had found out more about Gravesham over the past 6 months than he had learnt over the past 50 years.



The Chairman wished all those present a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year before inviting Members to her home for some seasonal refreshment following the closure of the Meeting at 8.50 p.m.


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