Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the July 2008 Parish Council Meeting

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Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting, held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Monday, 7th July 2008 at 7.30 p.m.


Present: Cllr.Mrs J.M.Papadopulos (Chairman)
County Councillor:- Cllr. M. Snelling.
Borough Councillor:- Cllr. B. Sweetland.
Councillors:- 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: Community Warden Steve Gray
Toni Stevens
12 Parishioners .

Apologies for absence: Cllr. Grey

P.C. Steve Cole.
PCSO Darren Fielding

The Chairman welcomed Amanda Mendzil as the new co-opted Parish Councillor. Mrs Mendzil signed her Declaration of Acceptance of Office and Register of Members Interest forms.

The Chairman welcomed Toni Stevens, who is in charge of youth scheme reparations in the area as well as being a Higham Resident. Toni explained that she had responsibility for finding and supervising work in the community for young offenders who have court orders. Although they could be involved in local projects such as graffiti removal, public footpath and recreation ground maintenance, and gardening, they were only able to use basic tools and no electrical equipment. Toni reported that the youngsters had cleared the right of way beside Meadows Stores and at the back of the properties to Villa Road and passed photographs of this project to the Chairman. Following discussion Members made suggestions as to future work within the village, including cutting back the brambles to the seat in School Lane near to The Knowle and clearing the pond to Lower Higham in the Autumn.
The Chairman thanked Toni for the good work carried out and arranged for Clive Stanley to place the photographs on the Parish Council website.

The Chairman accepted apologies for absence.
There were no alterations to the Register of Members Interests.

The Minutes of the Annual Parish Council Meeting followed by a Parish Council Meeting, held on Monday, 12th May 2008, were confirmed and signed.

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

a. P.877 Matters Arising. Reactive Road signs. A response had been received from Martin
Wybraniec asking for clarification as to which type of sign the Parish Council was seeking
to introduce. Following discussion Members agreed to recommend the speed indicator
device which could be used at temporary sites within the village. This indicated the actual
speed of an approaching vehicle. The Clerk was instructed to obtain costings for the
sign and to enquire regarding maintenance and where it might be kept when not in use.
b. P.877 Matters Arising. Land at Higham Station. The Borough Council was currently in
discussion with the planning applicant’s solicitors. Cllr. Mendzil highlighted how
dangerous it now was to drop passengers at the station following the installation of the
new railings. Cllr. Oakeshott indicated that she believed that a charge of £2.50 per day for
car parking in the new car park would be levied, but it would be monitored. Members
stressed the need for the car park charges to be the same as elsewhere as if they were
cheaper the car park was likely to be oversubscribed. Members noted the occurrence of
opportunistic parking in the area by commuters wanting to park for free.
c. Web Site report. Clive Stanley reported that a new ISP had been set up since the last
Meeting and at this stage it was impossible to give any accurate figures as to the number
of hits to the website.
d. P.878 and 879. Problems with vehicles to School Lane and Steadman Close had been
reported to the Police.
e. P.878. A list of the registration numbers of lorries and coaches, travelling at speed down
Forge Lane, was still awaited from Mr and Mrs Collins.
f. P879. Forecourt outside Parade of shops. Linda Martin had not been able to help
regarding the ownership but Irene Cater had agreed to try and find old plans which might
provide the answer.
g. P. 879 Commuter parking to Jupp Court. This was now less of a problem since the
residents to the part buy / part rent properties had moved in.
h. P. 880 Recreation Ground. Following our Insurer’s approval of the quotation for the
replacement slide from Record RSS, the work had now been put in hand following the
receipt of the settlement cheque. Members unanimously approved an additional cost of
£736 plus VAT to upgrade the safety surfacing at the same time.

Cllr. Oakeshott reported that a new dog bin would be installed to Forge Lane near the lay by. Cheryl Russell was investigating the possibility of installing a ramp from Irvine Road up to the Gravesend Road and would also arrange for the removal of the blue barrel to Jubilee Corner at the end of Taylors Lane.
Kent Community Warden Steve Gray reported that he now had copies of an official letter that he could place under the windscreen wipers of vehicles that were parked illegally and causing an obstruction. Details of these cars would then be reported to the police including the fact that they were undamaged at the time the notice was placed.

Parishioners’ Matters.
Diane Humbles, of Forge Lane, reported that Hyde Housing was now unwilling to plant 3 trees to the Jupp Court side of School Lane as promised, as Gravesham Borough Council
had advised them that there were services underground. She reminded Members that some of the trees, originally planted by Wards on the other side of the road when the estate was built, were now dead and still required replacing. Cllr. Oakeshott agreed to investigate these matters further. In answer to a question from Mrs Humbles, Cllr. Oakeshott reported that top soil would be placed on top of the damaged grass verge to School Lane which would then either be seeded or turfed prior to stumps being installed in the Autumn to prohibit parking. Mrs Humbles also reported continuing problems with the monitoring of the CPZ to the area.
The Clerk reported that it was understood that additional wardens were to be recruited by the Borough Council to overcome this problem. Mrs Humbles also reported that a red car was regularly parking over the faded double yellow lines to the top of Villa Road which required reinstatement. Community Warden Steve Gray agreed to place a copy of his parking letter on the vehicle in question.
Mr Chilmaid, of Steadman Close, reported the need to remove a fallen branch to the grass verge. He passed vehicle registration details to Steve Gray of a car to the area which was causing a noise nuisance to residents.
Mrs Martin and Mr Taylor, of Martins Close, reported that they had sent a petition to Kent Highways regarding commuter parking to the Lower Rochester Road. Steve Gray confirmed that he had placed parking letters on the offending cars. Mr Taylor reminded the Parish Council that the 30 mph sign still needed moving further away from the village and Cllr. Oakeshott agreed to raise this at the forthcoming Meeting of Parish Chairmen.
Mr Collins, of Forge Lane, reported that it had not been possible to obtain registration numbers of speeding vehicles as they were going too fast. Cllr. Oakeshott agreed to again raise the possibility of a 20mph speed limit through part of the village at the forthcoming Meeting of Parish Chairmen.
Marilyn Peters, of Michele Cottages, reported that she had observed boys from Gads Hill School dropping litter outside village shops and the Clerk was asked to write to Mr Craggs to bring this to his notice. The Chequers Inn P.H. had now closed and was boarded up at the present time.

Higham Gardens for Pleasure Competition 2008.
The Chairman collected in names for the short list to be passed to Morton Grey for the final judging of this year’s competition.

Provision of Play Equipment to Higham Recreation Ground.
Cllr. Walton gave details of quotations now received to replace the safety surfacing underneath the multi-swing unit (Abacus £4535, Record RSS Ltd. £6879 and S.C. Slatter £5550 – all prices plus VAT). After discussion Members unanimously decided to proceed with the quotation from Abacus and the Clerk was instructed to place the work in hand.
Cllr. Walton also reported that the Recreation Committee was currently obtaining quotations for trimming back the Leylandii hedge to the Recreation Ground and hoped to have the work carried out during the summer.

To discuss the future administration of the Planning Committee.
Members agreed to meet informally at the beginning of September to discuss this matter and report back at the September Meeting of the Parish Council.

Councillors Matters.

Cllr. Snelling reported that a pilot scheme was currently being trialled in Gravesham for the new Pavement Policy whereby parking tickets could be issued in designated areas to vehicles parking on the pavement. It was widely expected that this would gradually be introduced into the rural areas. The County Council had received confirmation that it was still classed as an “excellent council “ having been given a 4* rating by the Audit Commission after a recent inspection. It had been estimated that the effects of the current credit crisis and increase in fuel prices had cost the County Council an additional £25 million. It was currently proposed to rename the Local Board to become the Neighbourhood Board and this would involve all three tiers of Local Government namely Kent County Council, Gravesham Borough Council and the Parish Councils, who would have representation on the Committee. Certain powers would be devolved to a local level and grants allocated to rural areas. Cllr. Snelling asked that the outstanding lorry sign to the Wainscott By Pass be placed on the agenda for discussion at the forthcoming Meeting of Parish Chairmen.

Cllr. Sweetland outlined recent cultural events within the Borough including the St. Georges Day celebrations, Vaisakhi, and the recent Big Day Out in conjunction with power boating. Cllr. Sweetland reported that the Borough Council was still searching for an appropriate site for a museum. It was hoped that the planning application for the Heritage Quarter would go to the Regulatory Board Meeting in October. Cllr. Sweetland agreed to look into complaints regarding excessive rubbish in Gravesend and reported that some shopkeepers had already been fined over this issue. It was hoped that the revamped Northfleet tip would open in September. Discussions were underway at the present time to secure a site opposite to the Council Depot at Brookvale to be used for travellers. Cllr. Sweetland agreed to look into a claim that someone was living in a caravan to the back garden of a property in Steadman Close.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that there had been problems with raw sewage seeping into the gardens of properties in Forge Lane. An application by Meadows Stores for a ½ hour limit parking space in front of the shop for daytime weekdays had been approved by the Borough Council which meant that delivery vehicles would be able to park outside without obstructing the road. Signs prohibiting the access of vehicles associated with the IOG to Shorne pipeline works had now been placed at all entrances to the village. The Borough Council and Hyde Housing had agreed to jointly fund the provision of cottage style fencing around the gardens and in School Lane at the Jupp Court development. A request had been made that consideration should be given to making the area around the Chequers Inn P.H. a conservation area as this would give some protection to the building. Members unanimously endorsed this suggestion. Another potential site for rural housing within the village at the junction of Gore Green Road and Bull Lane was currently under consideration by the Borough Council.

Cllr. James reported that the hedge to the boundary of the Three Crutches P.H. in Crutches Lane still required cutting back. Ownership had now transferred to the Innbar Tavern Group
based at London Road, Strood. A meeting with the Borough Council had been arranged to inspect the proposed northern route for the Walking Bus and to discuss how this could now be brought into operation. The fascia of the underbridge had been repaired but approximately 20 car tyres had now been dumped at the site. Steve Gray agreed to arrange for their removal. The road surface to Crutches Lane still required repair.
Cllr. Walton highlighted brambles which needed to be cut back between Michele Cottages and Steadman Close.
Cllr. Mendzil drew Members attention to a large number of vehicles being parked outside a property on Telegraph Hill. Cllr. Oakeshott confirmed that planning permission had been obtained.
Cllr. Sutherland confirmed that the sensors to the traffic lights at the top of Villa Road were not picking up motor bikes whilst they were waiting there. He had received complaints regarding cars parking over the “dog bone” at the top of Chilton Drive.
Cllr. Pearton drew Members attention to an instance when the Girl Guides were unable to play rounders on the Recreation Ground as it was being used by the Football Club. It was agreed to approach Pat Jeal regarding this matter. Cllr. Pearton highlighted the efforts of Terry Symonds from Lower Higham who was commended for his public spirit in cleaning graffiti off walls and signs in the village.

a. Planning.

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

Appln. no. 20080366 Oakleigh Farm, Buckland Road.
Retention of two buildings each providing 4 stables with five ancilliary buildings comprising tackroom, tea room,
two haystores and storage building; continued use of building as stables, together with ancilliary buildings and continued use of horse exercise area and non-agricultural area as sandschools.
Appln. no. 20080428 84, Forge Lane.
Erection of single storey rear extension to form an enlarged kitchen.
Appln. no. 20080465 “Lyndon”, 59, Walmers Avenue.
Erection of single storey rear extension to form three enlarged bedrooms.
Appln. no. 20080461 Roundabout A226 Gravesend Road And A289 Slip Road West Higham.
Display of three non-illuminated free standing signs on roundabout.
Appln. no. 20080462 Roundabout A225 Gravesend Road And A289 Slip Road East Higham.
Display of three non-illuminated free standing signs on roundabout.
Appln. no. 20080485 2, Ash Crescent.
Erection of an attached double garage at the side.
Appln. no. 20080509 “North Leigh”, Gravesend Road.
Change of use of garage/boathouse into two bed and breakfast units involving construction of new pitched roofs on proposed units, existing garage and open car port.
Appln. no. 20080528 23, Brice Road.
Erection of two storey side extension to form study, utility room and shower room with a bedroom at first floor level.
Appln. no. 20080482 29, Lake Drive.

Erection of a detached double garage at the side.
Appln. no. 20080537 6, Brice Road.
Erection of two storey side extension to form an enlarged living room and playroom at ground floor level with a bedroom at first floor level.
Appln. no. 20080552 15, Taylors Lane.
Construction of a dormer extension in rear roof slope.
Appln. no. 20080565 Land To The Rear Of 13, 15, & 17 Forge Lane.
Erection of two pairs of two storey, semi-detached, three bedroom dwellings with vehicular access to a detached quadruple car port and four car parking spaces at the rear through The Braes.

h. Governors of Higham School.
Cllr. James reported that the Head Teacher was on sick leave at the present time and may not return.

j. Higham Youth Club.
Cllr. Sutherland reported that the Club was dropping the age for entry to 10 years. It was still in need of extra helpers but was planning to apply for a grant to allow it to open for a second night each week.

l. Rural Housing.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the land at Forge Lane being considered for Rural Housing had been valued at £600,000 and it had been decided not to proceed.

m. PACT.
Cllr. Sutherland reported that a walkabout had been planned for 29/7 to look at any troublespots within the village.. A further meeting would be held in early September.

The Clerk presented the quarterly financial statement for the period 1/4/08 until 30/6/08. She asked for approval for the items shown on the agenda plus administration expenses of £778.63 for the period 1/4/08 to 30/6/08, this being proposed by Cllr. James, seconded by Cllr. Walton and agreed by all Members.

Joanne Raff (Youth Work Provider Agreement – 24 hours) 187.20
Southern Water (allotments) 93.32
Clive Stanley (webmaster services/domain transfer/web hosting) 378.90
Joanne Raff (Youth Work Provider Agreement – 24 hours) 187.20
The Millbrook Garden Company (Garden Gift Tokens) 60.00
Clerk’s salary (net amount 1/4/08 – 30/6/08) 1573.95
Use of room as office (1/4/08 – 30/6/08) 227.50
H.M.Revenue and Customs (Clerk’s PAYE / NI (Employer/Employee)) 580.30

To record in the Minutes the following proposal:-

“This Council in accordance with its powers under Sections 137 and 139 of the Local Government Act 1972, should incur an expenditure of £60 for garden gift tokens from The Millbrook Garden Company, which is in the opinion of the Council in the interests of the area or its inhabitants”.

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. Representations had been sent to B.T. regarding the proposal to remove the telephone box to School Lane at the entrance to the Memorial Hall car park.
2. A request for a small circus to visit the Recreation Ground was noted but Members  expressed concerns regarding gaining access to the site.
3. It was agreed that the yearly visit to meet with Highways Officers should be deferred until September.
4. It was agreed that the outstanding lorry sign, repositioning of the 30mph sign and the value of PACT Meetings should be discussed at the Meeting of Parish Chairmen to be attended by Cllr. Oakeshott.

To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.
This was given as being Monday, 8th September 2008 at 7.30 p.m.

Any Other Business.
Cllr. Pearton reported that the Higham Primary School Summer Fayre had raised in the region of £3000.
The Clerk reported that the Play in the Park summer playscheme would visit the Recreation Ground on four dates in August.

There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 10.15 p.m.

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