Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the October 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 October 2009 at 7.30 p.m.


Present:                                  Cllr. Mrs P. Oakeshott (Vice Chairman in the Chair)

                                               Kent County Councillor: Cllr. M. Snelling.

                                               Borough Councillor:  Cllr. B. Sweetland.

                                               Councillors: J.A.Grey, A.L.Howard,  M.L.James,

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

                                               S.N.Walton and S.Wright.

In attendance:                        Sian Morley, Senior Planning Officer, Planning Policy, GBC.

                                               Kent Community Warden Steve Gray.

                                               11 Parishioners.

Apologies for absence:          Received from the Chairman, Cllr. Mrs J.M.Papadopulos,

                                               P.C. Steve Cole, PCSO Darren Fielding and Clive Stanley.


Prior to the commencement of the Meeting the Chairman invited Sian Morley, Senior Planning Officer, Planning Policy, GBC, to address Members regarding the submission of representations during the forthcoming consultation period for the Local Development Framework. Mrs Morley explained the background to the Local Development Framework within the Borough and encouraged the Parish Council to get involved in the Regulation 25 consultation which was due to start in December/January. Amongst other aspects, this involved the identification of sites which could be used for traveller settlement and currently an additional 15 new pitches were still needed within the Borough to cover identified need.

If suitable sites could not be found it was possible that Green Belt land might be considered. Mrs Morley reiterated how important it was for the Borough to be able to provide

these necessary sites as without them instances of temporary permission had been granted, as had happened at the Chalk Road site, which might be made permanent in the future if provision elsewhere had not been found by that time. It was agreed that both the Borough and Parish Councils would make strong representations once the consultation period commenced. On behalf of the local residents in Chalk Road, Alex Vale also noted details of the forthcoming consultation process.

The Chairman thanked Mrs Morley for attending the Meeting and she left.


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 Parish Council Meeting, held on Monday, 14th September 2009, were confirmed and signed, following an amendment on P. 934 Parishioners’ Maters ( last paragraph) to read “Cllr.Walton reported that the publican would be unable to arrange for its removal as it was not a public car park” and P. 935 Parish (last paragraph) to read “ the Crutches Lane road nameplate opposite the Parish Council Noticeboard was missing.” 


Matters arising from the Minutes.

Including an update of actions from the last Minutes, the Clerk reported that:-

a.    P. 933 Matters Arising. Village noticeboards. The refurbishment of the village noticeboards would shortly take place.

b.    P. 933 Matters Arising. Overgrown alleyway. This matter had now been referred to the Borough Council.

c.    The Clerk was due to attend a Kent Highways Online training session the following day.

d.    P. 934 A letter had been sent to DCPS encouraging it to take up the alternative venue of the Church Hall for future Meetings, and a reply was currently awaited.

e.    P. 935 County. No application forms had needed to be completed for the provision of the lorry route sign from Cllr. Snelling’s Members Highway Allowance and this grant was now under consideration.

f.     P. 936 Recreation Ground. The Borough Council had reserved the roundabout for the Parish Council and Allan Chapman would inspect it and give a quotation for its installation.

g.    P. 936 Correspondence. The Clerk had now joined the SLCC.

h.    P. 934 Highways Liaison Meeting. Proposals for Safety Improvements to the highway within the village had been received by email that day, and the Clerk supplied copies of the same to each Member. Cllr. James explained the proposals, involving improved signage and designated crossing points, in greater detail. It was agreed however that more time was needed to discuss this matter and the Clerk was asked to place this item on the agenda for the next Meeting.


Parishioners’ Matters.

Fiona Spirals, of Church Street, reported that pictures of this year’s successful Scarecrow Festival were now on display within Higham Library and on the website and it was possible that the competition might be expanded to the whole of Lower Higham for next year. She thanked the Parish Council once again for its support for this year’s competition.

Alan Taylor, of Martins Close, expressed concern that the weekly planning list issued by the Borough Council was no longer on display within Higham Library. The Chairman confirmed that paper copies were no longer available, although it could be accessed online.

Alex Vale, of Chalk Road, reported problems with speeding Medway Skip lorries which were often not covered over. It was agreed that this problem should be referred to Kent Police for them to investigate. She also reported that the pavement to Chalk Road was broken and obstructed by dead brambles.

Mr Collins, of Forge Lane, reported that the white wooden fencing outside Upshire House was now badly broken and that the brick wall outside the parade of shops was in a poor state of repair. The road narrows signs on the traffic calming chicane required replacement, a road sign outside the Gardeners Arms had been hit and was leaning and a 30 mph sign in Taylors Lane required straightening.

The Clerk reported that Kent Highways had received a complaint regarding a bright street light in Norah Lane. After discussion amongst Members it was decided that it should be shielded for the present time.


To further discuss the provision of Christmas Lighting to the village.

The Clerk passed details of lighting companies to the Members of the Parish Lighting Committee (Cllrs. Mendzil, Pearton and Walton) The Clerk confirmed that an amount of £1600 had been set aside for Christmas lighting in the budget. Following discussion it was agreed that the Committee would investigate the cost of providing some form of Christmas lighting display to go in each shop window in the parade of shops.


To evaluate the success of the Play in the Park Summer Activity Playscheme.

The Chairman reported that Higham had been one of the most successful sites for this year’s Play in the Park playscheme, with up to 36 children attending the sessions. It was agreed that the Clerk should send a note of appreciation to the Borough Council and ask if it would be possible for an extra couple of days to be added to the programme for 2010.


Councillors’ Matters.


Cllr. Snelling reported that consideration was already being given to trimming funds from the Budget over the next three years. Signs of improvement had been noted following the continuing reorganisation of Kent Highways. The Gravesham Rural Neighbourhood Forum would experiment with participatory budgeting with the forthcoming “Grab a Grant Day”, when the public would decide how the available funds would be spent. Cllr. Snelling confirmed that he had spoken to Arriva buses regarding bringing the 136 service into the village but they were against this initiative at the present time. It was possible that the KCC Freedom Pass might be able to be purchased for use within Kent but not within Medway and a decision was currently awaited. It appeared that Sat Nav companies were keen to get unsuitable routes for HGV’s highlighted on their equipment, but it was not clear how this could be achieved. One possible solution might be to link it with Preferred Lorry Route maps, however not all HGV owners might own equipment that could take downloads. Kent Highways was considering an audit of lorry route signing with possible new or replacement signs where justified. The contract for the supported bus service no. 311 from Lower Higham to Meopham was due for renewal. Councillors reminded Cllr. Snelling that this was the school service.

Cllr. Mendzil reported that lessons at Rochester Grammar School for Girls now sometimes took place outside core school hours which meant that the school bus could not be used and the season ticket did not cover normal bus services. It was confirmed that this practice also took place at St. Georges School in Gravesend. Cllr. Snelling agreed to look into the matter.

In answer to a question from Cllr. Grey, Cllr. Snelling suggested that application be made from his Highways Allowance for a raised kerb to School Lane from Steadman Close to Station Approach.



Cllr. Sweetland reported that the Borough Council had purchased the land on which Ebbsfleet Football Club was built, for £500,000 to secure the future of the Club. A further £250,000 had been spent renewing gym facilities at both leisure centres within the Borough. In view of the fact that high speed trains would soon stop at Gravesend a large CPZ had been created around Gravesend town centre to deter all day commuter parking. Residents could apply for a permit but penalty charges would be £15 which was more expensive than the car parking costs of £8 per day at Ebbsfleet.

Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the problems relating to the Freedom Bus Pass were being considered by the County Council at the present time but it was rumoured that any alterations to the scheme might not take effect until September 2011. Repairs to speed humps in School Lane would be completed over the half term week.



Cllr. Grey reported that the red salt bin to the top of Station Approach now had a damaged lid which would not shut. He advised Members that he had reported to the Clerk that the garden area to Jupp Court had not been watered and the retention tree bands were now cutting into the trunks. The Clerk confirmed that this matter had already been reported to the Borough Council.

Cllr. Pearton reported that the surface of the pavement to Chalk Road was also crumbling.






a.    Planning.

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


Appln. no. 20090654   Weydon Hill, Chalk Road.

Erection of a detached garden building at the rear.

Appln. no. 20090778   Mockbeggar House, Town Road.

Erection of a detached triple bay garage with log store and a detached workshop and garden store.


c.    Memorial Hall.

       Cllr. Walton reported that the Memorial Hall Committee had applied for a grant through the Gravesham Rural Neighbourhood Forum for new seating for the Hall.


d.    Recreation Ground.

       Cllr. Walton confirmed that he had removed the damaged spring play equipment for safe keeping.


g.    GROWC.

       Cllr. Wright reported that he had attended a recent Meeting which had dealt with the new Park area developing around Shorne Country Park and also the new linear park alongside the A2.


j.    Higham Youth Club.

      Cllr. Sutherland reported that Wednesday nights were well attended but numbers remained low on Monday night at the present time.


l.    Rural Housing.

      The Clerk reported that the owners of land at Gore Green Road would like to come to a Parish Council Meeting to discuss possible options for the use of the site for affordable housing. Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the site might yet prove to be too expensive and too far from the village. It was agreed that an invitation would be extended to all interested parties to attend the January meeting to discuss the matter further if the Borough Council was of the opinion that the scheme was feasible.


m.    PACT.

        Peter Leakey reported that at the last PACT meeting it had been agreed that the Members would help the Parish Council to identify vulnerable people within the Parish as part of the Emergency Planning initiative and also try to recruit volunteers to man the SID equipment. Steve Gray confirmed that a total of 25 people would be needed to form five teams of five members. The next PACT Meeting would take place on 1/12.


n.    Kent Community Warden.

       Kent Community Warden Steve Gray reported that Members of the Youth Club had taken part in a Litter Pick of the village on 11/10 organised by Mr Collins. A total of 8 youngsters and 7 adults had been involved. He had attended Gads Hill School to give a talk to the 3-11 year olds on road safety. He reminded those present of the forthcoming Community Surgery and Coffee Morning on 29/10.



The Clerk presented the quarterly financial statement for the period 1/7/09 to 30/9/09. She asked for approval for the items shown on the agenda, this being proposed by Cllr. Scott, seconded by Cllr. Pearton and agreed by all Members.


SLCC (membership fee)                                                                                          117.00

Southern Water (water rates – allotments)                                                              219.93

St. John’s College (½ year rent for Recreation Ground by S.O.)                            125.00

Clive Stanley (webmaster services)                                                                         203.00

Joanne Raff (Youth Leader – September)                                                               418.20

Clerk’s salary (net amount 1/7/09 – 30/9/09)                                                        1770.88

H.M.Revenue and Customs (Clerk’s PAYE/NI (Employer/Employee)                  684.32

Use of room as office (1/7/09 – 30/9/09)                                                                 227.50  

Administration expenses (1/4/09 – 30/6/09)                                                            919.04     




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.   An agreement had been reached with George Webb Finn that the increase in Recreation Ground rent would be phased in over a two year period. The Chairman signed a Memorandum of Agreement for increase of rent to this effect.

2.   An approach to provide additional land for affordable housing in School Lane would be investigated by the Borough Council once the results of the forthcoming Housing Needs Survey were known.


To note the dates of the next Parish Council Meetings.

These were given as being  Monday, 30th November 2009 at 7.30 p.m. for the Christmas Meeting with the Mayor of Gravesham. The Budget and Finance Meeting would be held on Monday, 9th November 2009 at 7.30 p.m.


Any Other Business.

Cllr. Sutherland  reported that the grass verge opposite the Orchards in School Lane had been damaged by lorries associated with the recent building works and the Clerk was asked to refer this matter to the Borough Council to ask for it to be reinstated.

Cllr.Howard noted two additional sites within the village where dropped kerbs were required for wheelchairs but as it appeared that the budget for their provision had been spent the Clerk was asked to refer this item to Cllr. Snelling for consideration from his Highways Allowance.


There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 10.28 p.m..           



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