Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the May 2009 Parish Council Meeting
[Draft Minutes - to be confirmed at next Meeting]

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Minutes of the Annual Parish Council Meeting followed by a Parish Council Meeting held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Monday, 11th May 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:- J.A.Grey, Mrs A. Mendzil,
Mrs P.O. Oakeshott (also Borough), L.M.Pearton,
Mrs M.A.Scott, B.Sutherland, S.N.Walton and
S. Wright. In attendance: 5 Parishioners.
Rebecca Blackburn – Emergency Planning Group, KCC.
Apologies for absence: Received from Cllrs James and Howard
P.C. Steve Cole.
P.C.S.O. Darren Fielding
Kent Community Warden Steve Gray.

The Meeting was opened by the Clerk who welcomed all those present.

The Clerk called for nominations for the position of Chairman by secret ballot. Cllr. Papadopulos was re-elected as Chairman by a majority vote.


The Chairman asked for nominations for the position of Vice Chairman by secret ballot.
Cllr. Oakeshott was re-elected as Vice Chairman by a majority vote.

It was proposed by Cllr.Scott, seconded by Cllr. Sutherland and agreed by all Members that the following should be elected to Committees (lead member in capitals where applicable).
a. Allotment Committee.
Cllrs HOWARD, Papadopulos and Wright (3 MEMBERS)
b. Recreation Committee.
Cllrs. Pearton, Walton and WRIGHT (3 MEMBERS)
c. Planning Committee.
It was agreed that the whole Council should perform these duties (11 MEMBERS).
d. Parish Environment and Conservation Committee.
Cllrs. Grey, Howard, Mendzil, Oakeshott, Pearton, Sutherland, and Wright
e. The Budget and Finance Committee.
It was agreed that the whole Council should perform these duties at a separately convened Meeting (11 MEMBERS)
f. Parish Newsletter Committee.
Cllrs. Oakeshott, Papadopulos and Scott (3 MEMBERS)
g. Higham Gardens for Pleasure Committee.
It was agreed that all Members would be asked to provide suggestions for a short list from which the final judging would take place (11 MEMBERS).
h. Parish Lighting Committee.
Cllrs. Mendzil, Pearton and Walton (3 MEMBERS).

i. Emergency Planning Committee.
It was agreed that the whole Council should perform these duties split into three teams

These were agreed as follows:-
a. K.A.P.C. - Cllrs Scott and Sutherland.
b. Memorial Hall Management Committee - Cllr. Walton.
c. Local Transport Advisory Committee (Village Transport Representatives) - Cllrs. Howard and Wright.
d. Merston Court Day Centre - Cllr. Papadopulos.
e. G.R.O.W.C. - Cllrs. Howard and Wright.
f. Multi-Purpose Sports Facility - Cllr. Walton
g. Higham Youth Club - Cllrs. Papadopulos and Sutherland.
h. C.P.R.E. - Cllr. Sutherland.
i. Governing Body of Higham Primary School - Cllr. James. (Cllrs Scott, Pearton and Walton also serving on Governing Body.)
j. Police Advisory Committee - Cllrs. Grey and Howard.
k. Chalk Liaison Group - Cllrs. Pearton and Scott.
l. Press Officer - Cllr. Mendzil (deputy Cllr. Scott).
m. Rural Housing - Cllr. Oakeshott.
n. Village Roads, Pavements and Lighting – Cllrs. Grey and Scott.

6. The Clerk proposed a vote of thanks to both the Chairman and Anne Carroll for their help in providing refreshments at Meetings.

The Meeting closed at 7.45 p.m.


Prior to the commencement of the Parish Council Meeting the Chairman introduced Rebecca Blackburn of the Emergency Planning Group of Kent County Council to discuss a community self help plan template which had been circulated to Members prior to the Meeting.
Rebecca was delighted that the Parish Council had taken the first step by appointing an Emergency Planning Committee for the Parish. She explained that this crisis response team would only work within its own resources until the emergency services were able to come to the aid of the village. She outlined several scenarios where this might be applicable e.g. a plane crash, tanker spill, terrorist threat or outbreak of flu. Once established it was essential that the team was aware of what resources within the Parish were available both in terms of equipment and people. A designated building as a rest centre would need to be earmarked and because of the spread of the village she suggested that three teams should be set up. The Chairman proposed that a working party should be set up to investigate this initiative further.
Rebecca agreed to come back at a future date to discuss progress. The Chairman thanked her for attending the Meeting and she left.

It was proposed by Cllr. Oakeshott, seconded by Cllr. Sutherland, and agreed unanimously by all Members present that Standing Orders, including amendments for the Annual Parish Assembly, Financial Regulations, and Delegated Powers for the Planning Committee, should be adopted.
The Chairman accepted apologies for absence.
There were no alterations to the Register of Members Interests.
The Clerk highlighted a current playground inspection report which revealed that one of the picnic tables had been damaged.

The Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting, held on Monday, 6th April 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. 913. Steve Ridley had been unable to attend the APA.
b. P. 914. Matters Arising. Paul Gibbons would meet with Cllr. James at Old Watling Street with a traffic engineer.
c. P. 914. Risk Assessment. A regular item was now on the agenda to tie in with parish property for risk assessment purposes.
d. P. 915. Parish. The land at Crutches Lane had been discovered to belong to Southern Water who had now removed the yellow piping.
e. P. 915. Parish. A report from Cllr. James, on the provision of future bus services to Higham, had been circulated to all Members prior to the Meeting. It was agreed to defer further discussion on this item until the next Meeting.
f. P. 915. Parish. Paul Gibbons had agreed to restrict the issue of CPZ permits to residents of School Lane. Cllr. Grey agreed to advise what house numbers would be applicable.
g. P. 915. Parish. A response from David Aspinall had indicated that he still intended to resurface three cul de sacs ahead of Brice Road.
h. P. 915. Parish. Paul Gibbons had received the petition regarding a pavement for Jupp Court and was dealing with the matter. The police had been informed.
i. P.916. Parish. Tickets for the “Friday Night at the Proms” event were now on sale.
j. P. 916. Parish. The double yellow lines to the top of Villa Road had now been reinstated.
k. P. 917. Kent Community Warden. Speed signs to posts. PC Steve Ridley had advised that we would be unable to apply for these (for either a fixed camera or a mobile van) as we did not meet the criteria of a fatality or three serious accidents within three years. Members agreed to invite PC Ridley to the next Meeting to discuss this matter further.
l. Website Report. For the month of April there had been a total of 2500 visitors to the website and this had brought the total since June 2008 to 31,063.

Parishioners’ Matters.
Pat Jeal, of the Eagles Football Clubs, drew Members’ attention to the fact that the football club cut and maintained the football pitch to the Recreation Ground on a weekly basis and expressed concern that she understood that it was to be used for events during the summer months. The Chairman explained that the Recreation Ground would be used for the “Friday Night at the Proms” event in July but reassured Mrs Jeal that it was hoped that most Parishioners would walk to this event and that limited car parking could be arranged elsewhere.
Mrs Pascoe asked for permission to use the Recreation Ground for two outside show rings in conjunction with her booking of the Memorial Hall for a Dog Show on 26/7. Dog owners taking part would need to bring their cars onto the Recreation Ground. Members approved this request on the condition that the football pitch area was avoided, the cars were marshalled and that dog excrement was removed after the event. Cllr. Walton agreed to attend the event and ensure these conditions were met.
Mr Taylor, of Martins Close, reported that there was a large subsiding pothole outside Vicarage Row and that two yellow gateway markers were now missing to the chicane outside the Memorial Hall.

Matters Arising from this year’s Annual Parish Assembly.
The Clerk reminded Members of matters arising from this year’s Annual Parish Assembly.
These included a suggestion to halve the size of allotment plots to reduce the waiting list and concerns regarding some trains being removed from provisional timetables for after December. The full report from the conservation area in Lower Higham was still awaited and Parishioners were anxious to learn if a decision had been made regarding a site for the Lower Thames Crossing. Highways areas of concern included the poor state of Brice Road and whether the new street lighting to Beech Grove was likely to be installed to the rest of the village. It was hoped that the Parish Council and the Borough Council could work together to make the Gads project of positive benefit to the village. Complaints regarding rights of way issues were noted. In answer to a question regarding the amount of precept requested for the new financial year the Clerk had explained that the replacement of playground items damaged by vandalism had been costly and that the Parish Council would be funding a second night for the Youth Club to run.

To finalise arrangements for the 2009 Higham Gardens for Pleasure Competition.
The Chairman urged Members to sign up for roads to inspect and to each bring a total of three gardens to add to the short list at the next Meeting in July.

To arrange dates for Parish Council Meetings in 2010.
The following dates for Meetings were agreed:-
Mondays:- 11th January, 22nd February, 29th March, 10th May (Annual Parish Council Meeting with Parish Council Meeting), 5th July, 6th September, 11th October, 8th November (Budget and Finance only) , and 29th November (Christmas Meeting with the Mayor of Gravesham).
The Annual Parish Assembly would take place on Thursday, 15th April.

The remaining dates for Meetings in 2009 were as follows:-
Mondays:- 7th September, 12th October, 9th November (Budget and Finance only) and 30th November (Christmas Meeting with the Mayor of Gravesham)..

To discuss the feasibility of undertaking a Village Design Statement.
Cllr. Oakeshott outlined what needed to be done to produce a Village Design Statement and reported that Meopham had recently produced one after four years work. The Chairman stressed that this initiative needed to be led by someone from within the village. Cllr. Mendzil agreed to place an advert in the Library and on the website asking for volunteers to come forward and the Clerk agreed to provide her with the necessary information.

“Friday Night at the Proms” event.
The Clerk updated Members on the arrangements which had been made for this event. Notices were now on display throughout the village and on the website and tickets were being sold at Higham Library and in Haircare. Village groups had also been given an allocation and each Councillor would also be issued with some to sell. The Scouts would leaflet the village for their quiz on 27/6 and on the reverse of the leaflet they would advertise the Prom event. An application had been made to Kent Highways for an Events Licence and a Risk Assessment form had been completed. The SJAB would be in attendance to cover for First Aid and Members agreed a donation of £100 under Sections 137 and 139 for this purpose.. The Scouts would provide a BBQ, Guides would sell soft drinks, the WI would run a cake stall and HiARA would be selling strawberries and cream and Pimms (for which they had obtained a drinks licence). Cllr. Walton agreed to notify the fire brigade of the event. The Chairman and Cllr. Oakeshott agreed to provide supper for the bandsmen and Cllr. Pearton would provide a marquee for them to play under. The Memorial Hall toilets would be open and if the weather was wet the event would relocate to the Main Hall. It was agreed to hold an informal meeting closer to the event to discuss any additional points.

Councillors’ Matters.
Cllr. Snelling reported that the County Council elections would take place in early June. He continued to try and press for high kerbs and the long awaited lorry sign, and was disappointed in the response from Kent Highways regarding the resurfacing of Brice Road.
He outlined details of the Kent Freedom Pass bus ticket for students but stressed that it was only applicable if the student went to a Kent school and could not be used by those attending schools in Medway. Although a crossing east of Gravesend had recently been announced as one of three options for the Lower Thames Crossing it was widely expected that this item would be dealt with after the election and he would keep the Parish Council fully informed.

Cllr. Sweetland reported that ownership of the former Barratt building site in Gravesend town centre had now reverted back to the Borough Council with compensation. In order to help local businesses at the present time car parking would be free to all Borough Council car parks on Saturdays and was free everywhere on a Sunday. The Annual Mayor Making Ceremony would take place the following evening. Cllr. Sweetland confirmed that the restaurant at the Town Pier was currently in administration but negotiations were underway with a possible new owner.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the payphone to the Memorial Hall car park would no longer accept coins, and calls could now only be made by card or reverse charge. Merston Court wanted to arrange for a people carrier to take residents to Gravesend once a week in place of expensive taxi journeys. The cinema sessions at the Woodville Halls continued to be well supported. The recent St. Georges Day Parade had been extremely successful with over 700 schoolchildren taking part. The Housing Survey would be distributed within the village during the summer and a draft had been received for consideration.

Cllr. Walton highlighted a lack of police presence within the village over the past five weeks.
Cllr. Grey reported that the Station Approach road was being surveyed and Cllr. Oakeshott confirmed that the owner of the land at the Station was reportedly going to sell it back to Network Rail for car parking. It was agreed to contact the Conservation Officer at the Borough Council to see if a preservation order could be placed on the station building.
Cllr. Mendzil reported vehicles travelling at high speed over Telegraph Hill.
Cllr. Pearton reported that the gas pipeline ground reinstatement works were now complete


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.
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 including minor revisions to the previously considered floor plans and elevations facing Crutches Lane; conversion of the Mansion House (Old School Buildings) into a Dickens Visitor Centre involving the erection of a glazed entrance hall; erection of maintenance shed and laying out of service yard, formation of car park and coach park, improvements to Crutches Lane/Gravesend Road junction and improvements to existing vehicular access to the school along Crutches Lane. AMENDED/REVISED DESCRIPTION.
Appln. no 20090257 13, Michele Cottages, Chalk Road.
Conversion of rear dormer extension in rear roof slope and conversion of roof space into a bedroom and shower room/wc.
Appln. no. 20090264 59, Bull Lane.
Erection of first floor side extension to form a bedroom.
Appln. no. 20090268 76, Forge Lane.
Erection of single storey rear extension to form a lounge.
Appln. no. 20090270 Wyndways, Dillywood Lane.
Erection of first floor rear extension to form bedroom with ensuite bathroom/wc
Appln. no. 20090295 Firtrees, 6, Hermitage Road.
Application for Listed Building Consent for the refurbishment and repair of the interior and exterior of the existing dwelling including new kitchen and bathroom facilities.
Appln. no. 20090290 Higham Hall, Taylors Lane.
Erection of a detached triple garage with games room in the loft space; dismantling of and relocation of existing garage/store minus the log store to replace an existing shed and erection of new brick wall with vehicular and pedestrian entrance gates varying in height from 2.05m – 3.25m on the southern boundary.
Appln. no. 20090293 Higham Hall, Taylors Lane.
Application for Listed Building Consent for the erection of a detached triple garage with games room in the loft space; dismantling of and relocation of existing garage/store minus the log store to replace an existing shed and erection of new brick wall with vehicular and pedestrian entrance gates varying in height from 2.05m – 3.25m in height on the southern boundary.

d. Multi-Purpose Games Area.
Cllr. Walton reported that the floodlighting was now working

h. Governors of Higham School.
The Clerk reported that the school was staging a special performance of a panto-style musical called “Cinderella and Rockerfella” for the local community on 8/7 at 18.00.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that there was to be a Village Parade and Picnic on 11/7. All village groups were being encouraged to join the parade which started at 16.00
in Forge Lane.

i. Merston Court.
The Chairman reported that new drivers were needed at the present time.

j. Higham Youth Club.
Jo Raff reported that the additional older member’s night would commence the following Monday. In future Members aged between 10 and 13 years would attend on a Wednesday evening and those aged 14 years and over would attend on a Monday. As numbers had been down a little at present she had hired the bouncy castle assault course for this week’s session.

l. Rural Housing.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the Rural Survey would be sent out over the summer

The Clerk asked for approval for the items shown below this being proposed by Cllr.Scott , seconded by Cllr.Oakeshott and agreed by all Members.

Joanne Raff (Youth Work Provider Agreement) 187.20
Joanne Raff (Youth Work Provider Agreement) 196.80
EDF Energy 1 Ltd (Christmas lighting) 37.99
Administration Expenses (1/1/09 – 31/3/09) 699.20
British Telecommuncations plc (broadband) 114.69
C.P.R.E. (2009 subscription) 29.00
Mrs P. Oakeshott (APA costs under Section 150(2) of L.G.Act 1972) 70.16
Spectra Press (2009 Newsletter – VAT zero rated) 1225.00
Gravesham Borough Council (printing) 7.48
Gravesham Borough Council (printing) 22.08
M.J.Read and Co. (annual accounts and internal control) 345.00
Mrs L.M.Carnall (repay of employers NI – overpaid) 295.47
K.C.P.F.A. (2009 subscription) 20.00
Allianz Insurance (renewal premium) 1230.13
1st Higham Scouts (S.137/139 grant – educational visit) 100.00

To approve the Annual Return for Local Councils for the Year Ended 31st March 2009.
Copies of both the Annual Return for Local Councils in England and Wales, and accounts for the financial year ended 31st March 2009, had been circulated to Members prior to the Meeting. Both documents were approved unanimously by all Members present.
Members again noted the comments made by Nigel Wharton regarding the Council conducting a review once a year of the effectiveness of its system of internal control. It was agreed that, as last year, this should be considered by the Budget and Finance Committee when it met in early November, and the findings should be ratified by the full Parish Council Meeting at the end of November.

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 copy of a petition from residents of Jupp Court, requesting a pavement, had already been sent to Mr Gibbons at GBC.
2. Members agreed to clear plots 41 and 43, and the remainder of plots 42 and 44 at the allotment gardens so that they could be brought into use in view of the current waiting list.
3. The Clerk reminded Members that the next meeting with our Community Liaison Officer at Kent Highways would shortly be due. She agreed to investigate dates and report back at the next Meeting.

To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.
This was given as being Monday, 6th July 2009 at 7.30 p.m.

Any Other Business.
It was understood that the architect for Gads Hill School wished to outline the planned works which would commence early in 2010. The Clerk agreed to find out contact details and possibly arrange for him to attend a Meeting after the summer break.
Cllr. Pearton reported that the popular Bags to School collection would take place later this week and urged fellow Councillors to support this initiative.

There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 10.33 p.m.


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