Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the 2009 Annual Parish Assembly

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Minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Thursday, 16th April 2009 at 7.30 p.m.


Present:                           Cllr Mrs P. Oakeshott (Vice Chairman in the Chair)

                                        County Councillor:- Cllr. Mike Snelling.

                                        Borough Councillor:- Cllr. Bryan Sweetland (arrived later).         

                                        Councillors:- J.A.Grey, L.M. Pearton, Mrs. M.Scott,  B.Sutherland,

                                        S.Walton and S.Wright.                                    

In attendance:                   34 Parishioners

                                        PCSO Darren Fielding                                      

Apologies for absence:      Received from the Chairman, Cllr. Mrs J.M.Papadopulos, and Cllrs. James, Mendzil and Howard.

                                        PC Steve Cole.

                                        Kent Community Warden Steve Gray.


The Meeting was opened by the Vice Chairman, Cllr. Pat Oakeshott, who warmly welcomed all those present and thanked them for attending.


The Vice 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 Vice 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, 17th April 2008, were confirmed and signed.


Matters arising from the Minutes.

The Clerk reported that:-

1.    The missing play equipment had been reinstated to the Recreation Ground with new safety surfacing.

2.    The side garden wall of Upshire House had been repaired shortly after last year’s Annual Parish Assembly.

3.    Vegetation surrounding the street lighting to School Lane had now been cleared by Kent Highways.

4.    The Chairman of the PACT Committee, Peter Leakey, now regularly attended Parish Council Meetings to give his report as this was now an agenda item.


To receive the Annual Report of the Parish Council.

The Vice Chairman ensured that all persons present had a copy of the “Higham Parish Council Annual Newsletter and Reports 2009” 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. 36 )

b.   Planning (P. 9 )

c.   Recreation Ground (P. 20 )


In answer to a question from Mr Mead, regarding the current waiting list for allotments, the Clerk replied that all enquiries received were dated in a register and vacant plots were offered to prospective tenants in strict date order. Mr Mead suggested that perhaps consideration should be given to the reduction in size of the current plots to cater for the increased demand.



The draft simplified statement of accounts for 2008/2009 (P.5) was agreed by all those present, this being proposed by Cllr.Sutherland, and seconded by Cllr.Pearton . Those present noted that the balance to be carried forward into the new financial year was £9,254.43 and that this figure included unused general and specific contingency funds, and funds for work carried out, and for which invoices were still awaited.

In answer to a question from Mr Mead regarding the percentage increase in precept from the preceeding year, the Clerk highlighted the fact that Parish Council reserves had been drained by the replacement of the vandalised play equipment, and that the funding of a second Youth Club evening had been included in the budget. Mr Mead commented that if people were caught committing vandalism the Parish Council should be able to get some recompense from them for the damage they had caused. 


Report from County Council Representative.

Cllr. Snelling had submitted a written report which had been provided for all Parishioners (copy attached). Questions were dealt with under Parishioners’ Matters.


Report from District Council Representatives.

As Cllr. Sweetland was delayed in attending the Meeting, Parishioners noted his written report (copy attached).

Cllr. Oakeshott reported on the success of the Neighbourhood Forums, the next of which would be held at Gravesham East on 21/4 and would deal with Public Transport, Road Traffic and Pavements. Up to 600 children, from 14 different schools, were expected at the annual St. Georges Day parade on 23/4 when they would process from Towncentric to the Woodville Halls. Following the success of the film evenings, a Film Festival was to be held on 1/7 at the Woodville Halls. A new scheme entitled “Turn to Us” had been set up to help those affected by the recession. This year’s Heritage Festival would take place between 15/5 and 31/5. Gravesham now had a virtual museum which had 1000 images of Gravesham past and present. 


Report from the Governors of Higham Primary School (P.22)

Report of the Kent Association of Local Councils (P.8)


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.

She reported to Parishioners that such was the success of the Youth Club that a second night for older teenagers was currently planned and that the Parish Council had already put the necessary funding in place. She thanked Jo Raff, Youth Leader, and her team of volunteers for all their support.


To consider any other matters raised by Parishioners.

Mr Mead congratulated Cllr. Snelling on the recent Comprehensive Performance Assessment which saw the County Council recognized as the best performing County in the Country for the seventh year in succession, thus retaining its 4-star assessment. He expressed concern  that the existing train services to Charing Cross and Cannon Street would be cut in the wake of the new costly High Speed Rail Link to St. Pancreas. Cllr. Snelling confirmed that at the present time the County Council was making representations and that this issue was an ongoing debate.The new service was due to be launched in December 2009.

Mr Martin reported that he had asked SET if the new service would stop at Higham station and had been told that it would up until December 2009, but it was not shown on the website as doing so after this date. Cllr. Snelling reported that there was concern that Gravesend might become a railhead for the new service as there were reports that it would cost £11.50 per day to park at Ebbsfleet.

Mrs Waugh highlighted the fact that the current County Council ROW Officer only worked 3 days a week and was expected to cover both the Gravesend and Dartford areas. Cllr. Snelling reported that he had raised this matter on her behalf and was awaiting a response.

In answer to a question from Mr Mead regarding the Lower Thames Crossing, Cllr. Snelling reported that the report was currently awaited but that increasing the current capacity at Dartford would be one of the options to be considered.

Mrs Smith reported that the footway to Brice Road was in a poor condition and the Vice Chairman confirmed that it was shortly to be resurfaced.

Mr Martin asked when the full report of the Conservation Meeting for Lower Higham would be available and the Vice Chairman agreed to make further enquiries.

Mr Mead asked if the new street lighting installed in some of the estate roads was planned for the whole village, and if the Parish Council was having to pay for this. The Vice Chairman reported that she was not aware of any such plans and that the cost was met by Kent Highways.


Any Other Business.

Clive Stanley highlighted the success of the Parish Council website, which had had a total of 29,282 hits over the rolling 12 month period. Mr Mead asked the Borough and Parish Councils to work with Gads Hill School to make the proposed Dickens Visitor Centre of positive benefit to the Parish. The Vice Chairman advised Parishioners that a "Friday Night at the Proms" event would be held in the Recreation Ground on 3/7, featuring the Medway Towns Band, and posters would soon be on display in the village advising how Parishioner could purchase tickets.


The Vice Chairman welcomed Brian Macknish who gave a talk entitled “The Thames and Medway Canal and its future”.


To note the date of the next Annual Parish Assembly.

This was given as being Thursday, 15th April 2010 at 7.30 p.m.


The Vice Chairman thanked fellow Members of the Parish Council, the County Representative, and her fellow Borough Representative, 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


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


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