Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the January 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, 12th January 2009 at 7.30 p.m.


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

                                                Councillors:- J.A.Grey,  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

                                                P.C. Steve Cole

                                                Mr P. Gibbons – GBC.

                                                9  Parishioners.                                                                                                

Apologies for absence:           Cllr. M. Snelling (Kent County Council)

                                                Cllr. B. Sweetland (Borough)

                                                Cllrs. James and Howard.


The Chairman welcomed Paul Gibbons, Service Manager, Operations (Parking and Amenities) to the Meeting and he agreed to answer questions from those present. Cllr. Sutherland highlighted problems with parking on the grass verges at the bottom of the village and by Dickens Court. Mr Gibbons revealed that a scheme was currently being piloted for the next 6 months within the Borough which allowed traffic enforcement for vehicles parked on pavements in specific areas only. If this was a success it was probable that it would be rolled out to other areas within the Borough. Cllr. Mendzil asked if this could also include Telegraph Hill where parking was taking place between trees. Cllr. Grey reported that a pensioner from Steadman Close had slipped on a muddy verge and Mr Gibbons agreed to chase Mr Bright regarding the progress of the wooden blocks which were supposed to be installed to the grass verge at the bottom of School Lane. In answer to a question from Cllr. Grey regarding the times of policing the CPZ, Mr Gibbons indicated that he would be willing to consider extending the times and altering the routine if a petition was to be sent by local residents, but reminded Members that it would be impossible to vary the timings from one day to another. The Chairman reported that the possibility of installing chicanes to the top of Villa Road to help with the problems of vehicles parking to the pavement had been suggested and P.C.Cole confirmed that the police continued to ticket offending drivers at this location.

In answer to a question from Mr Chilmaid of Steadman Close regarding illegal parking in front of dropped kerbs, Mr Gibbons confirmed that the police would only attend and help any Parishioner who needed to get a car off a property forecourt. Mr Taylor, of Martins Close, drew Mr Gibbons attention to the problems of vehicles parking to the pavement at the junction of Martins Close and Lower Rochester Road. The Clerk reported a reply from Kerry Prescott, Transportation Engineer with Kent Highway Services in which she stressed that bollards could only be used if there was a safety problem and not to prevent parking but had confirmed that she had referred the matter to the Traffic Planner. Mr Parr, of Canal Road, drew Mr Gibbons’ attention to the large potholes and erosion to the banks in Canal Road, Lillechurch Road and Lower Rochester Road along the preferred lorry route. In answer to a question from Cllr. Wright, Mr Gibbons confirmed that considerable leaf litter obscuring yellow lines was taken into consideration by parking services.

The Chairman thanked Mr Gibbons for attending the Meeting and he left.


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, 1st December  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.899 Matters Arising. Christmas Lighting. A problem with the street light to the junction of Taylors Lane and School Lane had meant that the Christmas lighting at this location had not been lit.

b.    P. 899 Matters Arising. Clearance of pond to Lower Higham. The Reparations Team had confirmed that they hoped to carry out their risk assessment during the next month. Cllr. Oakeshott reported that she and Cllr. Sutherland had met with Mark Gallant of NWKCP on site and he had suggested a couple of dates when the volunteers might be available. A JCB would need to be used and possibly the sludge would have to form a bund around the pond. Members agreed to fund the cost of the JCB up to £500 and Cllr Walton offered to make further enquiries. Mr Parr suggested that the Army should be contacted    as they often supplied engineers and equipment for local community projects. He agreed to pass contact details to the Clerk.. Cllr. Oakeshott emphasized the need for a Conservation Committee to be set up.

c.   Use of Memorial Hall for extra night for Youth Club. The Hall Committee had now offered a Monday evening from 7.00 p.m. Cllr. Sutherland felt that this option should be put on hold until the end of the summer when hopefully the older members would show more commitment.

d.   Clive Stanley reported that there had been 2706 hits to the website for the month of December, and this had increased the rolling figure to 20165. It was agreed that the Meeting papers could be placed on the website 10 days before the Meeting. Information requested under the Model Publication Scheme for the Freedom of Information Act would also be displayed.

e.   Kent Highway Services had informed the Parish Council that requests for additional road signs to Hermitage Road and the entrances to the village had been turned down as the safety records at all locations were good.


Parishioners Matters.

Mr Chilmaid, of Steadman Close, reported that since the change of day for rubbish collection some clear rubbish sacks were being left behind. Cllr. Oakeshott agreed to raise the matter with the Borough Council if the problem continued.

Mrs Pinder, of Chalk Road, queried if permission had been granted for another mobile home at the site in Chalk Road. Cllr. Oakeshott was unaware of this but agreed to make enquiries and report back at the next Meeting.

Mrs Betts, of Chalk Road, reported fly tipping to the area. Steve Gray confirmed that the rubbish had been tipped on private land and therefore could not be collected in the usual manner. It was agreed to write to Mr Houghton and Mr Batchelor, local farmers, to ask them to arrange for its removal.

Mrs Vale, of Chalk Road, reported that three street lights were out to the road and the drain to the corner of Taylors Lane was blocked. Cllr. Oakeshott agreed to speak to Cheryl Russell.


Planning Application  - Land to the Rear of Chequers Inn, Church Street.

Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the Borough Council considered that the planning application for nine affordable housing units on land to the Rear of The Chequers Inn, Church Street to be unsuitable and would therefore be turning it down. 


Annual Parish Newsletter 2009.

The Clerk collected in copy material available and reminded Members of reports required for the 2009 Newsletter. It was agreed to ask Anne Waugh to write the footpaths report and Cllr. Mendzil agreed to produce a “good neighbour” article for inclusion.


Wake up Gravesham 2009.

An estimate for the cost of the KM Orchestra for the Proms in the Park event on 3/7 was still awaited. It was suggested that a “Safari Supper” could also be arranged with an organized walk between public houses within the village all of whom would provide one course of a meal. It was hoped that the evening might also include Copperfield Clog dancing at one of the venues.


Councillors Matters.


Cllr. Snelling was not able to attend the Meeting.



Cllr. Oakeshott thanked the residents of Lower Higham for making the area around the Christmas lighting look so attractive with decorations and ribbons. It was understood that in addition to supplying dog bins the Borough Council was also able to supply the poop bags to go into the bins and she would try to find out more about this.



Cllr. Walton reported that the windows of the telephone box to the end of the drive of the Memorial Hall car park had been painted over following the box having been vandalised and he agreed to make further enquiries.                                                                                                                                       

Cllr. Sutherland reported problems with dog excrement to Forge Lane when a customer of Meadows Stores had trodden the same into the shop.

Cllr. Grey asked if lighting levels could be increased to the School Lane footpath at the end of Steadman Close.

Cllr. Pearton enquired if it might be possible for a mirror to be installed at the junction of Gore Green Road with the Lower Rochester Road to help traffic emerging from the junction. The Clerk reminded Members that mirrors were not regarded as legal street furniture and as such insurance companies did not recognize them. Cllr. Pearton asked if it might be possible for the Memorial Hall car park toilets to be re-opened to the public since they continued to be cleaned on a regular basis. Cllr. Oakeshott agreed to speak to the Borough Council regarding this matter.

P.C.Steve Cole reported a 26.5% decrease in crime over the past twelve months with only 158 incidents being recorded. He notified Members of a Safer Car Crime Initiative afternoon on 21/1 between 13.00 and 17.00 hours at the Memorial Hall car park when anti-tamper number plate screws would be available. In answer to a question from Cllr. Mendzil he confirmed that the caravan recently set on fire in the slip road had not been stolen and would shortly be removed.

Community Warden Steve Gray reported that he would continue to monitor the current crime figures on the police website. He continued to support the Youth Club and the Walking Bus.

The Chairman advised Members that a decision needed to be reached regarding whether to proceed with a new Rural Housing Needs Survey for the village to update the existing figures. She reminded them that without the updated survey the funding for future projects might not be forthcoming. Members expressed their concerns that the housing need shown on the last survey had not yet been met and that the Gravesham allocation procedure had caused concern. Following discussion a vote took place and with no clear decision emerging, the Chairman cast her vote to proceed with the survey as an advisory document only and not necessarily to proceed with the findings.

The Clerk agreed to arrange for the salt levels in the bins to be checked following the recent cold spell. The Clerk reported a request through Kent Highway Services for the relocating of a salt bin at the junction of Oak Drive and Taylors Lane due to a complaint from a Parishioner. Cllr. Sutherland agreed to visit the site and suggest an alternative location.

It was agreed that consideration should be given at the Annual Parish Council Meeting in May to the formation of a Lighting Committee to deal with the Christmas lighting to the village and for the Parish Environment Committee to be renamed as the Parish Environment and Conservation Committee.





a.    Planning.

       Plans were available for the following planning applications which had been received

       and reviewed by the Planning Committee:-


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

AMENDED DESCRIPTION  Demolition of existing school hall and outbuildings and erection of a 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 Visitor’s Centre 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. 20081020   13, Martins Close.

Erection of single storey rear extension to form an enlarged bedroom with ensuite bathroom/wc and an enlarged dining area.

Appln. no. 20081027   3, Michele Cottages, Chalk Road.

Erection of a conservatory at the rear.

Appln. no. 20081067   12, Walmers Avenue.

Demolition of existing dwelling and erection of a detached part single and part two storey, three bedroom dwelling.


e.    Recreation Ground.

       The Clerk passed the annual site report for the Recreation Ground to Cllr. Walton.


f.    Governors of Higham School.

       Cllr. Scott reported that of the 13 applications received a total of 5 applicants were interviewed for the Headship of the School. An appointment had now been made and the new Headteacher would commence in April.


i.    Merston Court.

      The Chairman reported that the Meeting had been cancelled the previous week due to the bad weather. Drivers and cooks were still desperately needed.


j.    Youth Club.

       Cllr. Sutherland reported that the Club had met in the snow the previous week when 15 youngsters had turned up. In order to save money Joanne Raff had now designed her own website.


m.    PACT.

        The Clerk reported that Kent Highway Services had asked if the Parish Council supported the request from the recent PACT Meeting for chevrons to be installed to Forge Lane to warn of the Gardeners junction. Following discussion Members agreed instead to ask Kent Highways if double yellow lines, with an exemption notice for loading or unloading, could be considered for this junction in place of the chevrons.



The Clerk presented the quarterly financial statement for the period 1/10/08 to 31/12/08. She asked for approval for the items shown on the agenda plus additional amounts of £112.48 for Broadband, £187.20 for Joanne Raff as Youth Leader and £91.00 for Clive Stanley as Webmaster, this being proposed by Cllr. Scott, seconded by Cllr. Sutherland and agreed by all Members.


Playdale Playgrounds Ltd. (replacement slide panel)                                                       116.96

PDW Contracting Services Ltd. (test and inspect Christmas lighting)                             294.35

PDW Contracting Services Ltd. (install Christmas lighting units)                                   701.78

PDW Contracting Services Ltd. (remove Christmas lighting)                                          345.00

Mrs L.M. Carnall (filing cabinets)                                                                                    218.50

Clerk’s salary (1/10/08 – 31/12/08 – net amount)                                                           1695.86

H.M.Revenue and Customs (Clerk’s PAYE/NI (Employer/Employee))                          746.17

Use of room as office (1/10/08 – 31/12/08)                                                                      227.50



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 the completion of the Annual Audit.
  2. Members suggested that Anne Waugh should be approached to become a Parish Path Warden for the Ramblers Association.

The Chairman acknowledged e-mails from Kay Pinder and Peter Parr which were receiving her attention.


To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.

This was given as being Monday, 23rd February 2009 at 7.30 p.m.


Any Other Business.

None was brought to the notice of the Meeting.



There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 9.58 p.m.


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