Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the February 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, 23rd February 2009 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,

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

                                                L.M. Pearton,  Mrs M. Scott,  B.Sutherland,

                                                S.N.Walton  and  S. Wright.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

In attendance:                          P.C.Steve Cole

                                                PCSO Darren Fielding

                                                18 Parishioners.                                                                                                

Apologies for absence:           Kent Community Warden Steve Gray. 



The Chairman accepted apologies for absence.

There were no alterations to the Register of Members Interests.

No Declarations of Interest were made by any Member in the items contained on the agenda.


The Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting, held on Monday, 12th  January 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. 904 Matters Arising. Christmas lighting. EDF Energy were to make an allowance on the electricity bill for the fact that only three sets of lights were lit.

b.    P. 904 Matters Arising. Pond clearance. Contact had been established with the Army. Cllr. Oakeshott reported that they were willing to clear the pond in October and the Parish Council would make a donation to their Afghanistan Memorial Fund. She had also obtained details of a contact who could remove the rubbish cleared from the pond for a cost of £250. Cllr. Sutherland reported that he had met on site earlier that day with Laura Webster from the Youth Offenders Team and they would be able to clear the area around the pond during the Summer in preparation for the visit from the Army.

c.    P. 904 Parishioners’ Matters. Chalk Road. Cllr. Oakeshott confirmed that the new mobile home observed on site was part of the original application.

d.    P. 904 and 905. Lighting problems were reported to Kent Highways via the CSM.

e.    P. 905 . Newsletter. Articles had been obtained from Cllr. Mendzil and Anne Waugh for  inclusion in the newsletter.

f.     P. 905. Wake up Gravesham. A price was still awaited for the orchestra.

g.    P. 906 Parish. Salt bin levels were checked before the last fall of snow and since that time there had been a salt shortage. Refills would be arranged.

h.    P. 906 Parish. Kent Highways had agreed to relocate the salt bin at Oak Drive to the opposite side of the road.

i.    P. 907 PACT. Following a reminder from Kent Highways that any application for double yellow lines must be supported by a petition it was agreed that Cllr. James would 

       organize that for Old Watling Street,  Cllr. Oakeshott that for the Gardeners Corner, and Cllr. Grey that for the CPZ in Lower Higham.

j.    Web site report. There had been a total of 3193 hits to the website during January which had brought the running total to 24,482.


Parishioners’ Matters.

Mrs Vale, of Chalk Road, enquired if the Borough Council had now identified sites for travellers within the Borough. Cllr. Snelling confirmed that of the 15 sites that the Borough had to provide, eight had been found but seven more were still needed. Mrs Vale expressed concern that if the Chalk Road site was made permanent after 2011 she had been advised that it would have an adverse effect on the values of properties in the vicinity. Cllr. Sweetland confirmed that it would be possible to have input into the Local Development Framework in September when possible alternative sites would be sought and he offered his help to the Parish Council and local residents. 

Mr Kentspear and other residents of Lower Higham expressed concern that the application for six B1 light industrial units and an extension to Higham Station car park had been approved by the Borough Council following the removal of the 106 agreement which had been considered by them to be unworkable. They felt that these units were not needed as there was spare capacity at both Nuralite and Beckley Hill at the present time and the units would generate even more lorry traffic along the village roads. There was further concern that a larger car park would allow more commuters from outside the area to use the station especially if the charges were too low. Cllr. Mendzil highlighted the fact that the car park would be fenced and have CCTV and lighting. Spaces would be marked out and there would be a large turning circle for buses. Parking on the approach road would not be allowed which should make it less dangerous. Cllr. Oakeshott confirmed that the units would be for storage and small works only and no car repairs or paint spraying would be allowed. Hours of work would be 07.30 to 17.30 Monday to Friday and 07.30 to 13.00 on a Saturday with no Sundays or Bank Holidays being worked. In answer to a question from Mrs Humbles, the Chairman agreed to check on the planning history of the site and the date when the Parish Council first gave its comments on the original planning application.

Mr Kentspear asked if the current times of policing the CPZ could be increased. Cllr. Grey confirmed that this would form part of the petition he would be arranging.

Mrs Peters, of Michele Cottages, enquired if there should be a sign to say when you could park on Chalk Road and P.C. Cole agreed to investigate.


Annual Parish Newsletter and Annual Parish Assembly 2009.

Quotations had now been received for the printing of the newsletter (Spectra £1050, Northfleet Press £1152 and Azographics £1150). Members unanimously agreed that Spectra Press should be asked to proceed as they had the cheapest quotation and had carried out the work before. The Scouts would start to deliver the newsletter to the centre of the village on 3/4 with the remainder being carried out by Councillors and Parishioners. The Clerk chased outstanding copy material for the newsletter. This year’s speaker for the Annual Parish Assembly would be Brian Macknish of the Thames and Medway Canal Association whose  talk would be about  “The Thames and Medway Canal and its future”.


Wake up Gravesham 2009.

Cllr. Oakeshott asked for suggestions for an event  in addition to the “Proms on the Recreation Ground” to take place within the village to support the Wake up Gravesham  campaign running within the Borough this summer. Ideas ranged from a Shakespearian play or the local operatic society staging a performance,  to local groups such as Emma Cater’s Street Dance Group and the local school providing entertainment. Cllr. Oakeshott appealed for anyone with ideas to contact her direct.


Councillors’ Matters.


Cllr. Snelling reported that at the recent budget meeting an increase of 2.44% had been agreed for the new financial year. Extra money had been put into Child Protection and Highways where an extra 15 teams were now on hand to deal with problems such as potholes.  Staff pay rises this year had been limited to 1% and an extra £250,000 had been allocated to the Citizens Advice Bureaux in order to help people with debt counseling during

the current economic crisis. Cllr. Snelling revealed that in addition to the £10,000 per year general grant given to each County Councillor they would each now receive an additional £25,000 for the next two years for small highways schemes which might otherwise never be considered.

Cllr. Grey asked Cllr. Snelling regarding the provision of high kerbs or posts to School Lane to deter parking on the grass. Cllr. Snelling agreed to speak further to Rob Bright but drew Members attention to an extension of the by laws currently being piloted which allowed cars parking to the verge in specific areas to be ticketed.



Cllr. Sweetland reported details of a change to the structure of the Council from the following week. He was stepping down from his role in the Cabinet but there would be a new member, Cllr. Laura Hryniewicz whose role would be to reach out to the Borough’s young people. There would be an item on activities for young people at the forthcoming Gravesham Rural Neighbourhood Forum and Cllr. Sweetland suggested that the Youth Leader, Joanne Raff, might like to attend. In addition the sum of £50,000 had been ring fenced to enhance facilities for youth in the Borough.



The Chairman reported that she had received a complaint from a resident of Steadman Close who was unable to get out of his drive because of vans being parked inconsiderately. It was agreed to refer this matter to the Police.

Cllr. Grey reported problems with cars parking on the grass verge between the trees in Steadman Close.

Cllr. Sutherland reported that a toilet and a cistern had been dumped to the grass area in front of Merston Court.

Cllr. Pearton reported deep potholes to both Higham Road and Chalk Road.

Cllr. Oakeshott reported that she now had 5000 dog bags for Parishioners to use with the dog bins in the village. She had left supplies of these in the Post Office, Library and Meadows Stores. She reported that the owner of Meadows Stores had asked if it might be possible to place chairs and tables on the pavement where the vegetable and paper stands were at present. As the Borough Council had raised no objection, Members were in agreement with this request subject to the arrangement being reviewed after a three month period and adequate rubbish bins being provided. Cllr. Oakeshott confirmed that the traffic lights to the top of Villa Road were now working correctly. The Rural Commission Development Officer was to visit Higham Youth Club on 4/3 to meet with the helpers and discuss the forthcoming sex education lectures for 14-15 year olds as well as the possibility of opening the club for an additional night for the older children.

Cllr. James reported that he had received a complaint that the Manager of the Three Crutches Public House was reducing the width of the road outside the pub by parking his car there. The Clerk agreed to write to him to ask him to use the car park on site.


P.C. Steve Cole advised Members that a couple of new graffiti tags had appeared in the village. He asked Members to ring him if they had any further information. Cllr. James reported an increase in graffiti to the walls of the underpass. Mr Chilmaid, of Steadman Close, reported that youngsters had been riding mini motor bikes in the fields at the back of the estate and this was noted by P.C.Cole.






a.    Planning

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


Appln. no. 20081109   Higham Hall, Taylors Lane.

Change of use of agricultural land to residential curtilage and erection of a detached triple garage with games room in the roof space on that land and relocation of the tractor/cycle store and log store beside it.

Appln. no. 20090062   13, Colewood Drive.

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

Appln. no. 20081028   Top Yard, Oakleigh Farm, Buckland Road.

Continued stationing of eight seasonal workers’ caravans.

Appln. no. 20090076   Gads Hill School, Gravesend Road.

Retention of the single storey building (Hewlett Pavilion) to the south of the walled kitchen garden to provide five classrooms, offices and storerooms for a temporary period.

Appln. no. 20090083   Station House, Chequers Street.

Construction of canopy above front entrance door and erection of a porch at the side.


Cllr. Walton agreed to look at the costings for the Gads Hill Business Plan to see if they were realistic.

Members agreed to ask Steve Gray to visit Gads Hill School at both arrival and departure times to monitor the current traffic situation.


g.    G.R.O.W.C.

       Cllr. Wright reported that he had attended the last meeting which was about developing the Pepper Hill linear park.


h.    Governors of Higham School.

       Cllr. James reported that the new Headteacher, Mrs Tracy Coombs, would take up her post on 20/4. The Advisory Headteacher would also stay until the end of the Summer

       term to provide a period of overlap. Cllr. Oakeshott reported the concerns of a parent regarding split classes at the school.


i.    Merston Court.

      The Chairman reported that the luncheon club had been cancelled twice recently due to the snow. There was still a shortage of cooks. Cllr. Mendzil suggested contacting the

      local catering college to see if this could form part of the training offered to the students


j.    Youth Club.

      Cllr. Sutherland reported that a recent reduction in numbers had coincided with the start of the new series of Waterloo Road.


m.   PACT.

       Mr Leakey confirmed that the next Meeting would take place the following Monday.




The Clerk asked for approval for the items shown on the agenda this being proposed by Cllr. James, seconded by Cllr. Sutherland and agreed by all Members.


Joanne Raff (Youth Work Provider Agreement – 24 hours)                                            187.20

Thames and Medway Canal Association (talk at APA – Sect. 150(2) L.G.Act ’72)         50.00

Audit Commission (2008 audit fee)                                                                                  327.75

Action with Communities in Rural Kent (2009 subscription)                                            35.00



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 agreed to invite a member of the KCC Emergency Planning team to talk about a new Community Self Help Plan at the April meeting.

2.   Cllr. Oakeshott agreed to complete a survey on Existing and Future Parish Infrastructure Needs.

3.   A request by the Guides for funding would be referred to the Budget and Finance Meeting in November.

4.   Cllrs Oakeshott and Pearton agreed to meet with the owner of Higham Hall regarding his submission of another planning application.

5.   Parking to rural verges and fly tipping were selected as agenda items for the Meeting of Parish Chairmen on 9/4.



To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.

This was given as being Monday, 6th April 2009 at 7.30 p.m.



Any Other Business.

Members agreed to meet with Clive Gilbert on 19/3 for the planning tutorial.

The Clerk reported that she and Cllr. Wright had attended a Parish Portal presentation by Kent Highways. In future when reporting a street light not lit both the column number and location needed to be quoted.

Cllr. Scott highlighted the need to draw up a five year plan for the village to be submitted to both KCC and GBC.

Cllr. James recommended that the Parish should draw up a wish list of highways expenditure items to present to Cllr. Snelling for consideration when he received his new highways grant.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   


There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 10.12 p.m.


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