Higham Parish Council
Minutes of the July 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 July 2009 at 7.30 p.m.
Present: Cllr. Mrs J.M.Papadopulos (Chairman)
Kent County Councillor: Cllr. M. Snelling.
Borough Councillor: Cllr. B. Sweetland.
Councillors: A.L.Howard, M.L.James, Mrs A. Mendzil, Mrs P. Oakeshott, L.M.Pearton, Mrs M.A.Scott, B. Sutherland, S.N.Walton and S.Wright.
In attendance: PC Steve Cole
PC Steve Ridley – North Kent Traffic Management Unit of Kent Police
Kent Community Warden Steve Gray.
Apologies for absence: Received from Cllr. Grey.
The Chairman welcomed all those present to the Meeting and introduced PC Steve Ridley of the North Kent Traffic Management Unit of Kent Police who was to discuss traffic management issues within the village.
PC Ridley confirmed that it was usual for PC Steve Cole and PCSO Darren Fielding to receive details of any problems regarding traffic management within the village and if they were unable to deal with these they would pass them to him whilst others would need to be resolved by Kent Highways.
The following issues were discussed:-
1. The problem of large lorries mounting the pavement whilst they travelled down School Lane when the Walking Bus for the school was in operation. PC Ridley confirmed that driving on the footway was an offence but it would need to be witnessed by a member of Kent Police for any further action to be taken. With regards to the lorries accessing School Lane, this was a matter for Kent Highways to apply for either a width or weight restriction. Cllr. James observed that the installation of the long-awaited preferred lorry route sign would help reduce the numbers of these vehicles and that the Parish Council favoured an 18 tonne weight restriction for the road but had already been told by Kent Highways that the police would never support this. PC Ridley agreed to discuss the matter further with Kerry Prescott, Kent Highways Engineer, and confirmed that any signage could carry an attachment indicating “except for access”.
2. Cllr. Oakeshott expressed concern regarding the current traffic situation at Gads Hill School whereby parents did not use the school car park to drop off pupils, preferring instead to park on the opposite side of the A226 and leave them to cross this busy road. PC Cole confirmed that the size of the school car park was inadequate for the number of pupils at this expanding school and that he had no powers of enforcement. Discussion took place regarding the possibility of parents parking in the slip road off Gads Hill and pupils crossing to the school at a recognised crossing point with a crossing patrol person provided by the school. PC Ridley agreed to liaise with the Headmaster, Mr Craggs, and explore this possibility.
3. Cllr. Walton raised the problem of traffic speed throughout the village, particularly Forge Lane and Villa Road. PC Ridley commented that most pedestrians perceived traffic speed to be greater than it actually was. Unless there was poor accident record, or fatalities at a specific location, reactive road signs would not be considered by Kent Highways. One alternative which could be used was a data logger which would record vehicles and their speeds over a nine hour period but he noted that this had already been used and the results had not indicated a problem. Another possibility was a speed indicating device (SID) which could be both supplied and managed by Kent Police. A team of five local residents was required for each survey to record the colour, make, model, time and speed of vehicles shown by this device to be exceeding the speed limit. The registered keeper of an offending vehicle would be advised by post, and if they re-offended a second letter would be sent and they would then be monitored for speed enforcement. As teams wore yellow vizi jackets whilst they operated this equipment the effect was to slow down the speed of the traffic. It was noted that 25 residents (5 teams) would be ideal to run this initiative. PC Ridley offered to return at a future date to demonstrate the equipment once the teams had been identified.
4. Clive Stanley, webmaster, of Oak Drive, expressed the concerns of local residents at the number of drivers who carried out illegal turns at the Gardeners junction, and Anne Carroll, of Highwood Close, spoke about how drivers regularly drove with a wheel on the pavement from the Post Office to Hayes Close in Forge Lane. PC Ridley confirmed that it was the view of the police that a one way system using Forge Lane and Villa Road would cause traffic speeds to increase in the village. A suggestion had been made that the pavement at the Gardeners junction could be shaped to deter illegal turns and Cllr. James suggested that the end of Forge Lane could have wide pavements installed so that it would be only a side road and not the main road at the junction. PC Ridley agreed to meet on site with Kerry Prescott to look at these options and also engineering options for the height of the footway and kerbs to the area. Cllr. Wright reminded those present that it was paramount not to interfere with the ability of local traders to load and unload.
5. Cllr. James asked if it would be possible to install speed camera signs to School Lane to slow down the speed of the traffic. PC Ridley confirmed that these were not to be used with the laser cameras operated by local police. They were only to be used in conjunction with the static cameras of the Kent and Medway Safety Partnership, who would not consider this location as it had a good safety record.
The Chairman thanked PC Ridley for attending the Meeting and promised further discussion of these matters by the Parish Council.
The Chairman accepted apologies for absence.
There were no alterations to the Register of Members Interests.
There were no inspection reports for Parish property and amenities.
The Minutes of the Annual Parish Council Meeting, and Parish Council Meeting, held on Monday, 11th May 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. 920 Emergency Planning. Members agreed to look further at the Emergency Planning issue at a future date.
b. P 921 Matters Arising. Due to the petition organised by Cllr. Grey, alterations would be made to the timings of the CPZ to Lower Higham and the issue of permits to residents in School Lane would be restricted.
c. P. 921 Parishioners Matters. The subsiding pothole to School Lane and damaged gateway markers had been reported to Kent Highways.
d. P. 922 Friday Night at the Proms. It was agreed to postpone the evaluation of this event until the September Meeting . Photographs of the event by Clive Stanley and Michael Papadopulos were now on the website.
e. P. 923 Parish. As the Conservation Officer Regina Jaszinski no longer worked for the Borough Council the matter would be referred to Gerrard Shaw, her replacement.
f. P. 925 Correspondence. Cheryl Russell had given details of a private contractor who might be willing to clear the allotment plots.
g. P. 925 Correspondence. A Community Liaison Meeting with Kent Highways would be held on 22nd July.
h. P. 925 AOB. It was hoped that the Gads Hill Project Manager would attend a future Meeting of the Parish Council to discuss the forthcoming building works on site.
i. Web site report. The total number of hits to the website since August 2008 now stood at 30,556.
Cllr. James reported that he had met with Kerry Prescott at Old Watling Street regarding the problems with parking.(P. 921 of the minutes refers) and it had been suggested that an application for double yellow lines be submitted.
Fiona Spirals, of Hope Terrace, advised Members that, following the success of the competition last year, she and Linda Parr would be running a Scarecrow Festival this year for the residents of Lower Higham. Judging would take place on 13/9 and would coincide with the Heritage Weekend when St. Marys Church would be open. It was planned to place dressed scarecrows inside the church. In order for entry to the competition to be free this year she asked if the Parish Council would be willing to provide a grant and after discussion Members unanimously agreed to award a grant of £100 (under sections 137 and 139 of the Local Government Act 1972).
Peter Leakey, of PACT, reminded those present that there would be a walkabout of the village on 14/7 commencing at 7.00 p.m. from the Railway Tavern.
Higham Gardens for Pleasure Competition 2009.
The Chairman reminded Members to hand her details of the three gardens they wished to be included in the short list for this year’s competition which had been delayed due to Morton Grey recovering from an eye operation.
Administration of the Planning Committee.
The Clerk outlined the changes to the administration of the Planning Committee which had been agreed and implemented following the Meeting in September 2008. She reminded Members to advise her if they were going to be away on holiday so that she could make alternative arrangements for any planning applications received. The Clerk emphasised the need to have a lead member for this sub committee and its was agreed by all Members that Cllr. Oakeshott would carry out this role with Cllr. Pearton as her deputy.
Future bus service provision to Higham.
A report from Cllr .James on the future bus service provision to Higham had been circulated to all Members prior to the May Meeting of the Parish Council. Cllr. James outlined the following points:-
1. Arriva Buses was not keen to divert the 136 bus route through Higham as it was a semi fast service and it was felt that the village traffic would cause delays and upset commuters.
2. In view of the fact that it appeared that the Higham Station Car Park had been sold back to the railway it was agreed to defer further discussion regarding a possible Commuter bus service to Cliffe/Cliffe Woods until it was known what improvements were planned for parking at Higham Station.
3. Agreement had been reached for the 700/701 service from Bluewater to the Medway Towns to have 2 extra bus stops in Watling Street to save Parishioners having to walk ½ mile to the nearest bus stop.
Cllr. Snelling reported that Cllr. Bryan Sweetland had just been elected as a local Kent County Councillor. The report on the Lower Thames Crossing was awaited shortly. The Borough Council had objected to the option for the crossing to be sited East of Gravesend on environmental grounds and had suggested that consideration should be given to abolishing the tolls at the Dartford Crossing to help the congestion.
Cllr. Sweetland reported that the travellers at Sole Street had now moved to their new site at Brookvale. The Barratts site in Gravesend would become a temporary car park and the free parking initiative in Borough Council car parks on a Saturday would continue. Cllr. Sweetland suggested that the Parish Council should apply for a Community Chest grant towards local projects such as the Christmas lighting.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that she continued to receive complaints regarding the Freedom Pass whereby pupils living in Higham were unable to take advantage of this scheme if they attended a school in Medway. Adam Holloway had written to the local authority to complain.
A total of six dropped kerbs had been installed to the village to provide access for a Parishioner with a disability buggy. Lisa Selby was dealing with a complaint regarding nettles in School Lane from The Knowle to Steadman Close. Since making enquiries on behalf of Age Concern regarding a mini bus to take them to Gravesend on a weekly basis the taxi driver had now lowered his fares to be competitive. A Parishioner had fallen on rough footway in Chilton Drive and Kent Highways had inspected the site. The Borough Council was considering introducing film matinees at the Woodville Halls once a month for older residents of the Borough .
Cllr. James advised Members of a new express coach service from the Chatham Outlet Centre to Gatwick which ran every two hours at a cost of £26 return.
Cllr. Howard reported brambles overhanging the footpath to School Lane.
Cllr. Sutherland reported an increase in the amount of traffic using Telegraph Hill due to the owners of a property running a business from home.
Cllr. Pearton reported that the school Summer Fayre had raised £2654.30 . He reminded those present of the Village Parade which would be taking place on 11/7.
BREAK FOR REFRESHMENTS
Plans were available for the following planning applications which had been received and reviewed by the Planning Committee:-
Appln. no. 20090343 Honeysuckle Lodge, 26, Telegraph Hill.
Erection of part two and part single storey extension on the southern side elevation, incorporating enlargement of the existing front and rear dormer extensions, to form garden room at lower ground floor level, double garage, enlarged kitchen and balcony at ground floor level and bedroom and ensuite bathroom in the proposed roof space.
Appln. no. 20090381 35, Walmers Avenue.
Erection of second floor side extension to form a study.
Appln. no. 20090403 44, Norah Lane.
Construction of new enlarged roof incorporating erection of rear and first floor front extensions with three dormer windows in rear roof slope and one in front roof slope to provide enlarged lounge, dining room and kitchen at ground floor level with four bedrooms and two ensuite bathroom/wc’s in roof space/first floor level.
Appln. no 20090144 Former Chequers Inn, Church Street.
REVISED/AMENDED DESCRIPTION – Conversion of existing public house into 8 no. self contained flats comprising 3 no. one bedroom and 5 no. two bedroom flats; erection of 2 no. two storey, two bedroom houses adjacent to public house fronting Church Street each with garage; a terrace of 3 no. two storey, two bedroom houses fronting Canal Road; erection of a refuse/cycle store and laying out of 19 no. car parking spaces (including 2 no. garages) and associated hardstanding.
Appln. no. 20090145 Land To The Rear Of Chequers Inn, Church Street.
REVISED/AMENDED DESCRIPTION – Erection of five affordable dwellings comprising 2 no. two storey, two bedroom semi-detached houses and a terrace of 3 no. two storey, two bedroom houses and laying out of 9 no. car parking spaces and associated hardstanding and landscaping.
Appln. no. 20090500 2, Hollytree Drive.
Construction of new enlarged pitched roof on dwelling incorporating a dormer window in front roof slope and three dormer windows in rear roof slope and erection of a front extension to form enlarged hall and study at ground floor level with three bedrooms and bathroom/wc in the roof space.
Cllr. Oakeshott confirmed that following the recent Regulatory Board Meeting the planning applications for The Chequers would now be dealt with under delegated powers.
h. Governors of Higham School.
Cllr. James reported that three pupils had now all successfully appealed against unsuitable secondary schools. The Walking Bus was now operating on a daily basis in each direction.
j. Higham Youth Club.
Cllr. Sutherland reported that 28 youngsters were now on the register for a Wednesday evening. Attendance for o Monday evening for the older Members was now also starting to pick up.
Peter Leakey reported that the walkabout of the village would take place on 14/7. The next scheduled PACT Meeting would take place on 1/9.
n. Kent Community Warden.
Steve Gray reported that since his return from sick leave he had resumed his monthly coffee morning surgeries at the Church Hall on the last Thursday of the month, although no Parishioners had attended the last one. He would attend the Village Parade on Saturday, walking with the Youth Club. He hoped to organise some litter picking within the village in conjunction with the Scouts, Guides and Youth Club.
The Clerk presented the quarterly financial statement for the period 1/4/09 to 30/6/09. She asked for approval for the items shown on the agenda plus the sum of £442.80 for Joanne Raff for the Youth Club for June, this being proposed by Cllr. James, seconded by Cllr. Pearton and agreed by all Members.
Joanne Raff (Youth Club – May) 246.00
Medway Towns Band (Friday Night at the Proms event) 300.00
SJAB (S137/139 donation for first aid cover) 100.00
The Millbrook Garden Company (Garden Gift Tokens) 60.00
Clerk’s salary (net amount 1/4/09 – 30/6/09) 1770.88
Use of room as office (1/4/09 – 30/6/09) 227.50
H.M.Revenue and Customs (Clerk’s PAYE/NI (Employer/Employee) 684.32
Clive Stanley (webmaster services) 105.00
Allianz Insurance (additional premium following audit) 145.91
The following proposal was recorded in the Minutes:-
“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. A proposal had been received from George Webb Finn to increase the annual rent for the Recreation Ground from £125 to £250. Members felt that such an increase should be staggered and the Clerk was asked to respond accordingly.
2. The Chairman and Vice Chairman agreed to study the consultation document for the Partial Review – Planning for Gypsies so that the Parish Council could liaise with Cllr. Sweetland.
3. Cllr. Oakeshott agreed to complete a brief questionnaire on the recent IOG to Shorne pipeworks.
4. A request for guided walks providers within the Parish under the Explore Kent initiative would be passed to Anne Waugh.
To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.
This was given as being Monday, 7th September 2009 at 7.30 p.m.
Members approved a request for one of the allotment tenants to keep bees on her allotment from Summer 2010 subject to no objections from other allotment holders.
The Clerk reported that the Gravesham Council Play in the Park Summer Activity Playscheme would visit the village on four dates in August.
There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 10.12 p.m..
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