Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the February 2010 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, 22nd February 2010 at 7.30 p.m.


Cllr. Mrs J.M. Papadopulos (Chairman)
Kent County Councillor: Cllr. M. Snelling.
Borough Councillor: Cllr. B. Sweetland.
Councillors: J.A.Grey, A.L.Howard, Mrs P.Oakeshott (also
Borough), L.M.Pearton, B. Sutherland, S.N.Walton and

In attendance:

Kent Community Warden Steve Gray.
Steve Scully – Emergency Planning Officer Gravesham.
8 Parishioners.

Apologies for absence: Received from Cllrs James, Mendzil and Scott.

Prior to the commencement of the Meeting the Chairman introduced Steve Scully, Emergency Planning Officer at Gravesham who gave a presentation about a Parish Community Self Help Plan for Higham. Mr Scully outlined measures that could be taken by the village to devise such a plan that could be put into action in the event of severe weather (e.g. flooding or snowfall) or catastrophic incident. The plan would be able to identify vulnerable people, emergency centres, qualified residents, and the location of aid supplies and equipment. Concern was expressed by Members regarding the capture and safe storage of necessary data, which additionally would need to be copied for each zone within the village. Data forms would need to be delivered throughout the village to obtain the necessary information and would need to be returned to a selection of collection points. It was agreed to place an article in the newsletter warning Parishioners that this would be taking place later in the year. Mr Scully confirmed that if residents were requested to use village equipment such a tractors or chain saws they would be covered by KCC insurance, assuming that they were competent to use the equipment in the first place. In answer to a question from Cllr. James, Mr Scully confirmed that public houses and village halls were the most common form of emergency centre identified within communities and financial compensation was available from KCC if they should need to be used. It was therefore important to speak with publicans at the time the plan was drawn up to gain their cooperation with the arrangements.
The Chairman thanked Mr Scully for attending the Meeting and for answering further questions from Members so that they would be able to discuss this initiative further at a future date.

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, 18th January 2010, were confirmed and signed.

Matters arising from the Minutes.
Including an update of actions from the last Minutes, the Clerk reported that:-
a. P. 949 Matters Arising. A revised application for the Playbuilder Grant had now been submitted following a Meeting with the Playdale representative.
b. P. 950 County. A response from GBC detailing the current situation regarding Higham Station car park had been received. The purchase by the railway company had not been completed at the present time.
c. P. 950 Borough. LDF Regulation 25 Consultation. The Chairman, Vice Chairman, Clerk, Cllr. Sweetland and Alex Vale (local resident) would meet with Wendy Lane, Principal Planning Officer at GBC on 3/3.
d. P. 950 Parish. Members discussed whether a survey should be conducted at local bus stops to see if there was interest from Parishioners for additional buses to stop in the village. Cllr. Sweetland reported that to date there had been a negative reaction from Arriva who seemed reluctant to change existing schedules and timetables for fear of increasing journey times and upsetting existing passengers. It was agreed that the effort and cost for this exercise would not really justify the small number of additional passengers who might be attracted to this service and Members therefore decided not to pursue this matter further. Cllr. James was thanked, in his absence, for all the hard work he had put into the investigations to date.
e. Web Site Report. In January 2010 there had been a total of 3255 hits to the website with the rolling total from March 2009 now standing at 35,565.

Parishioners’ Matters.
Valerie Pascoe again requested the use of the Recreation Ground in conjunction with her booking of the Memorial Hall on 31/5 for a Dog Show, following the success of the event the previous year. Members gave approval providing that any excrement was removed and the field left in a tidy state.
Alan Taylor, of Martins Close, reported that he understood that the footpath between Abbey Farm and Oakleigh Farm remained closed.

To again discuss the proposed safety improvements for the village.
The Clerk reported that following the last Meeting Cllr. James had notified Kerry Prescott of the decisions that had been made by Members and was currently awaiting a response.

To evaluate the suitability of the proposed Blue House affordable housing site in the village.
Following a Meeting of the Planning Committee to discuss this issue, the Clerk had circulated copies of the decision to all Members prior to the Parish Council Meeting. A decision had been reached not to support the proposal for affordable housing at this location due to the remoteness of the site, lack of pavements to surrounding busy roads, and the infrequency of public transport to the immediate area. Cllr. Oakeshott wished it placed on record that she believed the site should have received consideration in view of the results of the recent Rural Housing Survey which had revealed a need, within the next 5 years, of a total of 46 additional affordable housing properties within the village.

Annual Parish Newsletter and Annual Parish Assembly 2010.
The Clerk reported that the copy material had now been edited and would shortly be sent to the printers once it was received from Judi Stanley. The Scouts would be delivering the newsletter on 26/3. Joe McLaren would speak about the work of the Friends of St. Mary’s Church.

To update Parishioners regarding a POSSIBLE Lower Thames Crossing.
The Chairman reported that the sudden announcement from the Leader of Kent County Council expressing his support for a proposed Lower Thames Crossing to the east of Gravesend had been totally unexpected. She reassured Parishioners that this was a visionary statement with no funding, or plans and might not happen for another 30 years. She reported that the Parish Council planned to send an update letter to every home within the Parish and would include with this a copy of a letter she had received from our local M.P., Adam Holloway, offering his support. Members of the Parish Council had been interviewed live on Radio Kent on 29/1 and the Clerk played a recording of the broadcast. These leaflets would be delivered the following week with the Peninsula Times with the remaining 230, on the outskirts of the village, being given to Members and Parishioners to distribute.

To receive a report from the Kent Highway Services Parish Seminar held in November 2009.
Cllr. Grey reported that discussion had taken place regarding farmers attaching snow ploughs onto their tractors in rural areas. A fund was available for the provision of new salt bins. Private landowners had been approached to cut back hedges that were overgrown. The new permit scheme had now been introduced whereby all the services would apply for a permit and have to complete the works within a set time. Speed limits in the Gravesham area would come under scrutiny in April this year prior to all speed limits nationally being reviewed in 2011.

Councillors’ Matters.

Cllr. Snelling reported that the KCC Council Tax rise would be 2.1% this year, the lowest ever. Expenditure would be severely trimmed with up to 1000 jobs being lost, but front line services would not be affected. Expenditure on roads would be concentrated on repairs in view of the damage done by the severe winter weather this year. The resurfacing of the A226 through Higham was imminent as was Brice Road. A high kerb was to be installed to School Lane opposite Jupp Court to deter parking on the grass verge - the funds for this (£11,885) having come from his Highways Allowance. Cllr. Grey thanked Cllr. Snelling for funding this improvement. Cllr. Snelling agreed to enquire further regarding the portable rock salt spreader requested by the Parish.

Cllr. Sweetland reported that the GBC Council Tax rise would be 2.5% this year. The workforce would be trimmed by either natural wastage or redundancies and there would be no pay offer for the coming year. In answer to a question form Cllr. Grey, he confirmed that efficiency savings would be made whereby local councils would combine forces to share key personnel in an attempt to keep the front line services as they were. Cllr. Sweetland reported that he and the Parish Council would meet with Wendy Lane, Principal Planning Officer, regarding the Regulation 25 Consultation for the Local Development Framework on 3/3. It was agreed that the Parish Council would be represented by the Chairman and Vice Chairman with the Clerk also being present. It was further agreed to invite Alex Vale, of Chalk Road, to represent the local residents at this informal information seeking session. Following this the Parish Council representatives were given permission to submit a suitable response on behalf of the Parish Council within the timeframe and a copy would be sent to all Members.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the Community Payback Team were unable to assist with the clearance of the alleyway next to Meadow’s Stores as it was privately owned, as indeed was that which ran behind the properties in Villa Road towards the Library. Residents were reluctant to clear this as it stopped access at the rear of their properties. Members gave approval for Mr Marsh to use an empty barn at Buckland Farm to expand his business to include repairs to horse boxes.

Cllr. Grey reported problems with maintaining the turning circle at the station and queried why the station car park needed to be made bigger when the new high speed trains did not stop at Higham. Cllr. Oakeshott reminded Members that Chris Fribbens, a Member of Cliffe and Cliffe Woods Parish Council had campaigned for the new services to stop at Higham without success. Cllr. Sutherland reported break ins to vehicles parked at the station with some catalytic converters having been stolen.




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

Appln. no. 20100027 7, High View
Erection of single storey side and rear extension to form garage, utility room, shower room/wc, enlarged kitchen and enlarged living room; construction of dormer extension in rear roof slope and conversion of roof space into a habitable room and bathroom/wc.

b. KALC.
Cllr. Sutherland reported that the next Meeting would take place on 24/2.

d. Multi-Purpose Games Area.
Cllr. Walton aired a suggestion that had been made that local football team managers should take over the running of the Multi-Purpose Games Area. Members were opposed to this idea.

h. Governors of Higham Primary School.
Following a request from Cllr. James it was agreed to invite the Head Teacher of Higham Primary School, Mrs Tracy Coombs, to attend the next Meeting of the Parish Council to present the new School Travel Plan.

j. Higham Youth Club.
Cllr. Sutherland reported that Mr Hariharan of Meadows Stores was to present a cheque for £342.16 to the Youth Club at the Meeting on Wednesday evening which had come from an application he had made to the Costcutters Good Causes fund. This amount would be put towards the cost of a digital projector. He reported that there had been an increase in the numbers attending on a Monday evening.

l. Rural Housing.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that work was due to commence on the Chequers development early in the Summer.

m. PACT.
Peter Leakey reported that the Borough Dog Warden would be attending the next Meeting which would be held on 2/3.

n. Kent Community Warden.
Steve Gray reported that the next Coffee Morning and Surgery would be held on 25/2. Cllr. Oakeshott suggested that this session should be turned into a “Coffee Stop” offering coffee and cakes. It was agreed to publicise this at the forthcoming Annual Parish Assembly.

The Clerk asked for approval for the items listed below this being proposed by Cllr. Walton, seconded by Cllr. Sutherland and agreed by all Members.

Joanne Raff (Youth Leader – January) 393.60
Mrs L.M.Carnall (fault detection on HPC telephone line) 125.00
Joanne Raff (grant for change of venue for last Meeting re. DCPS) 20.00
Mrs P. Oakeshott (flowers/card for 60th Anniversary) 16.50

The Friends of St. Mary’s Church (talk at APA – Sect. 150(2) LG Act ’72) 50.00
Action with Communities in Rural Kent (2010 subscription) 35.00
Admin.Exps. (1/10/09 – 31/12/09) 632.22

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 item:-
1. Members noted that carriageway resurfacing works to the A226 would take place from 5/3 to 17/3 with daytime road closures. Brice Road would be resurfaced between 25/3 and 26/3.

To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.
This was given as being Monday, 29th March 2010 at 7.30 p.m.

Any Other Business.
It was reported that there was sometimes a delay in the determination of plans and a decision being relayed back to the Clerk. Cllr. Oakeshott questioned if it was necessary for all Members of the Parish Council to be on the Planning Committee. It was generally agreed that more practical advice for Members to follow when looking at a planning application would be useful.
Members discussed if it might be possible to get forms for the Parish Community Self Help Plan ready in time to be delivered with the newsletters and returned to the Polling Stations at the forthcoming General Election, but it was felt that there would be insufficient time. It was suggested that these could be delivered later in the year with the Church Christmas leaflet. It was agreed that it might be useful to speak to another Parish who had already completed the Plan to share their experiences.

There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 10.17 p.m.



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