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Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the April 2009 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, 6th April 2009 at 7.30 p.m.

Present: Cllr.Mrs J.M.Papadopulos (Chairman)
County Councillor:- Cllr. M. Snelling.
Councillors:- J.A.Grey, M.L.James, Mrs P. Oakeshott (also Borough), L.M. Pearton, B.Sutherland, and S. Wright.
In attendance: Kent Community Warden Steve Gray
7 Parishioners.
Apologies for absence: Borough Councillor Bryan Sweetland
Councillors:- Howard, Mendzil, Scott and Walton.
PC Steve Cole and PCSO Darren Fielding.

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

Cllr. Grey reported that he believed that the Minutes did not reflect the question that had been posed at the last Meeting, namely the date when the Parish Council had changed its mind regarding the planning application for the land at Higham Station. The Clerk reminded those present that the application had been discussed informally by Members after the Budget and Finance Meeting held on 12/11/07 and two letters dated 14/11/07 prepared by Cllr. James, reflecting the views of the Council, had been sent to the Planning Department. Cllr. James confirmed that the Parish Council had been advised by the Borough Council that the application was likely to be approved and therefore in addition to the initial objection on Green Belt grounds, a second contingency letter contained conditions that the Parish Council would wish to see imposed if this application was approved. Cllr. Grey expressed concern that by the Council taking this stance he had been unable to speak against the application as a Parish Councillor at the recent Regulatory Board Meeting. Cllr. Oakeshott confirmed that the decision to impose (and subsequently remove) the 106 agreement had been taken by the Borough Council and this had not formed part of the conditions imposed by the Parish Council. She reported that the railway was now in negotiations with the land owner to try and buy back the land in question to carry out its own improvements to Higham Station car park. As the weight restriction, requested by the Parish Council, had not formed part of the planning conditions, it was agreed to invite Steve Ridley to the forthcoming Annual Parish Assembly to discuss traffic management within the village.

Following this discussion, the Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting, held on Monday, 23rd February 2009, were confirmed and signed

Matters arising from the Minutes.
Including an update of actions from the last Minutes, the Clerk reported that:-
a. P.908 Matters Arising. Salt bin refills. These had now been arranged.
b. P.909 Newsletter. These were now in the process of being delivered throughout the
village.
c. P.910 Borough. Jo Raff had been informed regarding the forthcoming Rural Neighbourhood Forum.
d. P. 910 Parish. The toilet and cistern in front of Merston Court had now been removed.
e. P. 910 Parish. The pothole repair team had started work on the holes within the village.
f. P. 910 Parish. No response had been received from the Three Crutches P.H.
g. P.912. Correspondence. Rebecca Blackburn had been unable to attend the Meeting.
Members agreed to invite her to the May Meeting.
h. P.912 Correspondence. The agenda for the Meeting of Parish Chairmen on 9/4 was in the correspondence folder.
i.. There had now been a total of 28,145 hits to the website since June 2008.

Under P.908 (Matters Arising) Cllr. James reported that he intended to contact Paul Gibbons to arrange to meet him on site at Old Watling Street to discuss the current parking problems, as he understood that many of the drivers parking to the road were then car sharing to get to work. If yellow lines were installed he feared that they would park to Colewood Drive.
Under P.912 (AOB) Cllr. James requested all Councillors to give consideration to a wish list of highways expenditure within the village and forward the details to him so that he could submit it to Cllr. Snelling for consideration once his grant money was to hand.

Parishioners Matters.
Mrs Humbles, of School Lane, expressed disappointment at the Parish Council’s handling of the planning application for the land at Higham Station. The Chairman replied that she was sorry if local residents felt let down by the Parish Council decision, but to continue to solely oppose the application would have meant that no conditions would now be in place when it had been approved. With the latest development of the railway trying to buy back the land in question it was now no longer certain that the units would ever be built.
Mr Leakey, of PACT, reported that the Borough Council was looking at roads within the village for additional street cleaning. The Chairman thanked Fiona Spirals, and friends from Lower Higham, who had formed a working party and collected 25 bags of rubbish between The Chequers and St. Mary’s Church.

To finalise arrangements for the 2009 Annual Parish Assembly.
The Clerk reported that Lesley Topping would be providing the food and Cllr. Oakeshott would arrange the wine and glasses. Barrie Howes would have photographs of his Parish Council sponsored trip to Peru last year on display during the interval and Jo Raff would have photos of the Residential Trip on her laptop. Cllrs. Sutherland, Wright and Pearton agreed to help put out chairs and tables at 3.30 p.m. The Meeting would be chaired by Cllr. Oakeshott as the Chairman had given apologies.

Higham Gardens for Pleasure Competition 2009.
The Chairman circulated the list of roads and Members signed up to produce the short list for Morton Grey to judge. It was agreed that each Councillor should only give a list of three gardens per road.

To Review and Approve the Risk Assessment document.
The Clerk had circulated copies of this document to Members prior to the Meeting and following discussion it was signed by the Chairman. Cllr. James suggested that sites within the village and parish property should be inspected on a regular basis by Councillors and it was agreed that a regular item would be placed on the agenda to this effect.

To discuss the feasibility of undertaking a Village Design Statement.
As this had been suggested by Cllr. Scott, who was not present at the Meeting, it was agreed that this item should be placed on the agenda for the next Meeting in May.

Councillors’ Matters.
County.

Cllr. Snelling confirmed that the Council Tax rise had been pegged at 2.44% and pay increases for KCC staff had been limited to just 1%. Under the Comprehensive Performance Assessment, Kent had retained its 4 star assessment for the seventh year running and was now recognized as the best performing county in the country. The Business Enterprises within KCC for which Cllr. Snelling had responsibility had performed well with a £6 million profit at the end of the year. The Building Schools for the Future programme was closer to becoming a reality but there had been a shortage of grammar school places in Gravesham for successful candidates (mainly boys). The new Rural Neighbourhood Forums had proved popular and shared back-office services with joint working between Borough and District authorities had brought both economies and efficiency. The initial appraisal for the Lower Thames Crossing was awaited at the current time with Cllr. Snelling having been promised a seat at the table when discussions commence. It was still hoped that the cash from the failed Icelandic Banks would be able to be recovered but meanwhile it had no impact on KCC services. Cllr. Grey reported that the County Council was unwilling to install wooden posts to the grass verge in School Lane to deter parking. Cllr. Snelling agreed to investigate the possibility of high rise kerbs and liaise with Cllr. Sweetland who had already had dialogue with David Aspinall regarding this matter. He also agreed to follow up why three cul de sacs off Hollytree Drive had been selected for resurfacing ahead of Brice Road. Cllr. Snelling confirmed that he would be able to accept registrations for highway works within Parishes after 4/6 when his grant money would be available.

Borough.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the Farmers Markets in Gravesend continued to be well supported. The recent introduction of film evenings at the Woodville Halls had proved to be very popular and afternoon matinees for the elderly featuring older films would shortly be introduced.

Parish.
Cllr. James reported fly tipping to Crutches Lane by the underbridge. One load of rubble had been removed but another remained. The bundle of yellow gas piping still remained to the field and ownership of the land was currently being investigated. Cllr. James reported that he had attended the recent Gravesham Rural Neighbourhood Forum and made certain suggestions to improve the current supply of bus services to the village. These included
re-routing the 136, providing bus stops for the 700/701 service on Watling Street near to the junction with Old Watling Street and the provision of a commuter bus service to Cliffe/Cliffe Woods. It was agreed that the Clerk would send copies of Cllr. James’ report to all Members.
Cllr. Wright had drafted a letter to go to David Aspinall regarding the decision to resurface the three cul de sacs ahead of Brice Road and it was agreed that the Clerk should send this.
Cllr. Grey revealed that residents of School Lane who lived well outside the CPZ area had been issued with parking permits by the Borough Council and were now parking to the area near the station. It was understood that this was because they had School Lane addresses. It was agreed that Paul Gibbons should be informed of this situation. Cllr. Grey reported that cars parking opposite the Jupp Court junction continued to be a problem and it was agreed to refer this to the Police. A yellow pole to the chicane by the Memorial Hall had been knocked down.
Cllr. Pearton reported that horse manure to the pavement in School Lane on the Walking Bus route had caused problems. A pavement was needed to the area of verge above the Jupp Court junction as the bank was now very muddy and this mud was being walked into the school foyer. It was agreed to raise this problem with Paul Gibbons as it was hoped that the provision of a pavement might also help the problems of cars being parked at this location.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the Kent Messenger Band was booked for a ”Friday Night at the Proms” event on 3/7 at a cost of £300. It was hoped that a minimum of 100 tickets would be sold to cover the cost. An agreement had been reached with the Scouts to use the Memorial Hall if it was wet. Cllr. Pearton agreed to provide a marquee for the 18 musicians to play under and the Chairman and Cllr. Oakeshott agreed to provide them with supper. The scouts would provide the BBQ, the guides soft drinks and the WI would run a cake stall. The Clerk agreed to arrange for tickets to be printed. Cllr. Oakeshott also reported that the Scouts would be running a Quiz Night on 27/6 to fund an educational trip to London and in conjunction with the Library a Community Day would be held in the village on 7/8 with the Health Bus in attendance. The questionnaire for the Rural Housing Survey would sent to all Parishioners over the Summer. Poop bags were now available from the Post Office, Library and Meadows Stores. Over 100 car tyres had been removed from the canal by the Thames and Medway Canal volunteers. A property to Mountbatten Avenue had just been sold by Hyde Housing as the interior was very badly damaged. The wooden sign to Vicarage Row needed replacement
but Members agreed that this was the responsibility of the residents. The yellow lines to the top of Villa Road required reinstatement following recent roadworks and the Gore Green Road sign was still broken.

REFRESHMENT BREAK

Reports.

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

Appln. no. 20090098 Davann, Dillywood Lane.
Erection of single storey side and rear extensions incorporating new pitched roof to replace existing flat roof on garage, to form dining room, office/den, kitchen/dining room and conservatory.
Appln. no. 20090129 Mill House, Hermitage Road.
Application for Listed Building Consent for the replacement of four windows on the front elevation.
Appln. no. 20090144 Former Chequers Inn, Church Street.
Conversion of existing public house into nine self contained flats comprising four, one bedroom and five, two bedroom flats; erection of two, two storey, two bedroom dwellings attached to public house each with garage; a terrace of three, two storey, two bedroom houses; erection of two quadruple open bay garages, one with a two bedroom self contained flat in the roof space above.
Appln. no. 20090145 Land to the rear of Chequers Inn, Church Street.
Erection of five affordable dwellings comprising a pair of two storey, two bedroom semi-detached houses and a terrace of three, two storey, two bedroom houses and erection of a four bay car port.
Appln. no. 20090149 3, Lake Drive.
Erection of a conservatory at the rear.
Appln. no. 20090159 17, Hollytree Drive.
Erection of single storey front and side extension to form an enlarged bedroom, ensuite shower room/wc, wc and utility room.
Appln. no. 20090176 3, Carton Road.
Erection of a front infill extension to form entrance hall and re-roofing of bungalow incorporating an increase in its height and two dormer windows in the front roof slope to provide three bedrooms, three ensuite bathrooms and a study in the roof space.
Appln. no. 20090178 3, Hermitage Road.
Application for the variation of condition 3 attached to planning permission reference no. GR/19980312 relating to the change of use of store/warehouse to offices, to allow an extension of the opening hours from 8.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. weekdays and 8.00 a.m. – 1.00 p.m. Saturdays to increase to 8.00 a.m. - 8.00 p.m. on weekdays and 8.00 a.m. – 2.00 p.m. on Saturdays.
Appln. no. 20090203 Mockbeggar House, Town Road.
Erection of a detached building to provide workshop, garden store, garage, two bay open garage and a log store.

It was noted that the Parish Council had objected to the recent application for the conversion of the Chequers Inn into nine self-contained flats and the building of five affordable dwellings to the land to the rear of the public house.

h. Governors of Higham School
Cllr. James reported that six children had secured grammar school places which was
22% above the national average.

j. Higham Youth Club.
Jo Raff, Youth Leader, reported that she had attended the recent Rural Neighbourhood
Forum. A local P.E. teacher, Paul Cater, had offered his help to the Youth Club and Jo
was endeavouring to contact him. Attendances at the club were variable at present. The
recent Residential Trip had been very successful and the youngsters would like another
arranged. Jo had been to see a MUGA (multi-use games area) which was supposed to be
indestructible but the cost was in the region of £40,000. Insurance cover had already been
taken out for the extra night the club was to run. Cllr. James commended Jo for
organizing such a successful residential trip.

m. PACT.
Peter Leakey reported that the next meeting would be held on 2/6.

n. Kent Community Warden
Steve Gray reported that the recent Crime Prevention/Reduction Day had been very
successful with 73 people attending. Speed checks to Forge Lane using a data logger
had revealed that over a 9 hour period in March only 8 vehicles had exceeded 35mph.
Checks with a speedgun to School Lane had shown no vehicles exceeding 34 mph.
He would be holding regular Coffee Mornings at the end of each month in St. John’s
Church Hall from 10.30 to noon. Steve Gray reported that he understood that it might be
possible for the Parish to fund speed camera signs to go on lampposts which might help
to deter speeding. The Clerk agreed to raise this matter with Steve Ridley.

Finance.
The Clerk presented the quarterly financial statement for the period 1/1/09 to 31/3/09. She asked for approval for the following items, this being proposed by Cllr. Oakeshott, seconded by Cllr. Pearton and agreed by all Members

1st Higham Scouts (Sect. 137/139 grant – newsletter delivery) 75.00 Lesley Topping (food for APA – Sect.150(2)L.G.Act 1972) 180.00 St. John’s College Cambridge (½ year rent for R.G.) 125.00
KALC (2009 subscription and Local Council Review) 1082.52
NALC (Local Council Review) 54.00
J. A. Stanley (preparation of 2009 newsletter) 243.40
Clerk’s salary (1/1/09 – 31/3/09 – net amount) 1775.83 HM Revenue and Customs ( PAYE/NI (employer/employee) 808.43
Admin Exps. (1/10/08 – 31/12/08) 934.00 Expenses – use of room as office (1/1/09 – 31/3/09) 227.50 Higham Guides (Sect. 137/139 grant) 100.00 Higham Rainbows (Sect. 137/139 grant) 100.00
Age Concern (Sect. 137/139 grant) 325.00 St John’s Church (Sect. 137/139 grant) 300.00 Youth Club (Sect. 137/139 grant) 100.00 Educational sponsorship to Bolivia 100.00
Mrs L.M. Carnall (laser printer and toner) 157.01
Clive Stanley (webmaster services 31/12/08-25/3/09) 77.00
Joanne Raff (Youth Club – 24 hours) 187.20
EDF Energy (Christmas lighting costs) 37.99

Members unanimously agreed to increase the Clerk’s salary to SCP 23 for a total of 75 hours per month (£9354.60 p.a.) with effect from 1/4/09 as recommended at the Budget and Finance Meeting held on 10/11/08 following the Clerk’s Performance Management review, and subsequently ratified at the Parish Council Meeting held on 1/12/08.

Members unanimously agreed to raise the hourly rate for the Youth Leader’s salary to £8.20 per hour with effect from 1/4/09 and additionally increase the number of hours worked per week to reflect the additional night that the Youth Club would be open.

Members unanimously agreed not to raise allotment rents for the current financial year in view of the current recession.

Correspondence.
The correspondence folder had been available for perusal from 7.00 p.m. on that evening but the Clerk drew Members’ attention to the following items:-
1. Members noted the date of the Annual Audit as being 1/6/09.
2. Members unanimously agreed to a grant of £100 being made under Sections 137 and 139
of the Local Government Act 1972 to the Higham Scout Group for an educational visit to
London.

To note the date of the 2010 Annual Parish Assembly.
This was given as being Thursday, 15th April 2010.

To note the following dates for Parish Council Meetings.
These were given as being as follows:- Annual Parish Assembly – Thursday, 16th April 2009 at 7.30 p.m. and Annual Parish Council and Parish Council Meetings – Monday 11th May 2009 at 7.30 p.m.

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

On behalf of the Members of the Parish Council, Cllr. James thanked Cllr. Papadopulos for her excellent Chairmanship over the past year.

There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 10.05 p.m.

 

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