Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the March 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, 29th March 2010 at 7.30 p.m.


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

                                               Kent County Councillor: Cllr. M. Snelling.

                                               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:                        Mrs T. Coombs, Headteacher, Higham Primary School.

                                               19 Parishioners.

Apologies for absence:          Received from Borough Councillor, B. Sweetland,

                                               Cllr.Mrs P. Oakeshott, P.C. Steve Cole, Kent Community

                                               Warden Steve Gray and Clive Stanley.


Prior to the commencement of the Meeting the Chairman welcomed Mrs T. Coombs, Headteacher of Higham Primary School who presented the School Travel Plan

Pupils, parents and staff at the school had all been consulted in the preparation of this document. Following analysis of the data collected, targets had been set to try to reduce the number of car journeys made to and from school and to increase the number of pupils who either walked or cycled every day thus reducing both congestion and pollution in the proximity of the school.

The Chairman thanked Mrs Coombs for attending the Meeting.


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, 22nd February 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. 953.  Matters Arising. Playbuilder Grant. It was expected that a decision regarding this grant funding application would be received by early April.

b.    P. 953.  The response to the LDF Regulation 25 Consultation had been submitted on time.

c.    P. 954. Parishioners’ Matters. Anne Waugh was investigating the closed footpath between Abbey Farm and Oakleigh Farm. It seemed likely that the path closed was not

       the official footpath.

d.    P. 954. Newsletter. All newsletters were now with the distributors.

e.    P. 954. Possible Lower Thames Crossing. The agreed newsletters had been distributed with a copy of a letter received by the Chairman from local M.P. Adam Holloway.

f.     P.955. Parish. Turning Circle at Higham Station. Problems with vehicles parking on the turning  circle had now been reported to the British Transport Police at Ashford.

g.    P.957. AOB. Self Help Plan. It was understood that no other local Parishes had as yet agreed to set up a self help plan.

h.    The Clerk reported that during the rolling 12 month period there had been a total of 36,284 visitors to the Parish website with 2655 in February alone.


Parishioners’ Matters.

Michael Burgess, of School Lane, reported the formation of a new mens’ football team. The majority of the players lived within the village and financial backing had been secured. In order for the team to apply to join the North Kent Sunday League it needed to find a football pitch on which to play which had the use of shower facilities. He asked that consideration be given for the club to make use of the Recreation Ground pitch and in return the club would be prepared to carry out the necessary repairs to bring the changing rooms at the rear of the Memorial Hall back into use. Geoff Nash and David Defrates, of the Eagles Football Club, confirmed that their club now had a total of 130 boys playing in 9 teams and it used both the Recreation Ground pitch and pitches at Higham Primary School every Sunday morning for matches in both the Medway and Gravesham Boys’ Leagues. It owned all of its equipment, which was housed in a container on the Recreation Ground, and carried out the necessary maintenance and reseeding work to all the pitches. As the club was already looking for additional pitch space for the next season, to ease existing fixture congestion, it felt it could not accommodate an additional men’s team on the Recreation Ground pitch. The Chairman advised that the Clerk would notify both parties once the Parish Council had discussed the matter reached a decision.

Mr Ashby, of Norah Lane, suggested that the footpath outside the cottages to the top of Villa Road should be removed to allow for both car parking and two vehicles to pass safely at this point.


To finalise arrangements for the 2010 Annual Parish Assembly.

The Clerk reported that Lesley Topping would again be providing food for this year’s Assembly. The Chairman agreed to provide the drink and glasses. This year’s guest speaker would be Joe McLaren who would give a talk about the work of the Friends of St. Mary’s Church.


To discuss judging arrangements for the 2010 Higham Gardens for Pleasure Competition.

The Chairman agreed to contact Morton Grey regarding the judging of the competition. She circulated lists of the roads in the Parish and Councillors signed up to produce the short list.


To review and approve the risk assessment document.

Copies of the document had been circulated to Members prior to the Meeting. It was proposed by Cllr. James, seconded by Cllr. Grey and agreed by all Members that the updated document should be approved and signed.


To consider the suitability of village land for affordable housing.

The Chairman reported that the Borough Council had been approached by a company called Cascade Rural Solutions regarding a potential Rural Exemption Site for affordable housing within the village. It had been suggested that the site, fronting the A226 at the end of Walmers Avenue, could have 9 dwellings built on it, but it appeared that part of it lay within the Shorne Parish boundary. The land was both within the Green Belt and was believed to be of Grade 1 agricultural quality. Members expressed concern particularly that this was Green Belt land and that this proposal could encourage further ribbon development along the A226 whilst obliterating the views of the river and the open feel to that end of the Parish. Cllr. James expressed concern that it would place even more pressure on schooling facilities within the village. It was agreed that Cllr. Oakeshott would convey the negative views of the Parish Council back to the Housing Manager.


To further discuss the provision of a Parish Community Self Help Plan.

The Clerk reported that an article had been included in the Parish Newsletter regarding the completion of questionnaires by Parishioners at a later date. Members noted that no Parishes within Kent had, as yet, formed their own self help plan groups. The Chairman asked that a copy of a letter sent by Cllr.Wright to her, regarding the scheme, should be sent to Steve Scully for his comments. Peter Leakey and Steve Gray would try to encourage more areas within the village to set up Neighbourhood Watch Schemes.


Councillors’ Matters.


Cllr. Snelling reported that Mrs Catherine Kerswell had now been appointed as the new Managing Director of the County Council. Following the receipt of a £2.4 million grant from  Government, work had started on repairing the large number of potholes throughout the County. At a recent YAG Meeting, representations had been received from Higham Youth Club for a MUGA to be installed in Higham. Gravesend Central Library was being modernised and had temporarily located into an empty unit in the St. Georges Centre until building works were completed. The Kent Police Authority now had a short list of 5 potential candidates for the position of Chief Constable.

Cllr. Mendzil highlighted the problems caused to train scheduling following the introduction of the new High Speed Rail service which had proved to be of no benefit to the village, and her views were endorsed by Cllr. Grey. Cllr. Snelling agreed to look into the matter and it was suggested that he make contact with Chris Fribbins of the Local Rail Users Association.



As both Cllrs. Oakeshott and Sweetland did not attend the Meeting no report was given.



Cllr. James reported a deep pothole to the top of Forge Lane

Cllr. Mendzil reported that the pothole to Telegraph Hill, outside the garage, still required further filling in. She urged the Parish Council to organise a petition for faster Broadband services within the village. She understood that Shorne already had such facilities and the Clerk agreed to speak to their Clerk to find out more information.

Cllr. Grey reported that the trees to the front of Jupp Court were no longer growing and appeared to have died off. The extension of  the “no parking” times for the CPZ in Lower Higham, to allow for enforcement measures, appeared to not, as yet, have been implemented. He asked that consideration be given to the installation of signage to grass verges in the village prohibiting parking, as had been done in Meopham.

Cllr. Pearton reported that sight lines at The Brambles on the Lower Rochester Road were obscured by an overhanging hedge. He enquired if there had been any progress regarding the clearance of the pond at Lower Higham. The Chairman reported that the Army regiment concerned were fighting in Afghanistan at present. It was noted that the DCPS had been successful in obtaining grants for pond restoration elsewhere, and it was suggested that they be approached.






a.    Planning.

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


Appln. no. 20100114   7, Michele Cottages, Chalk Road.

Application for renewal of planning permission reference number 20041147 for erection of part two storey and part single storey side and rear extension to form garage and kitchen at ground floor level with bedroom and en-suite bathroom /w.c. at first floor level.

Appln. no 20100186  Land between Sharanda And 2, Gore Green Cottages, Gore Green Road

Erection of detached two bedroom bungalow with two car parking spaces at the front.



h.     Governors of Higham Primary School.

        Cllr. James reported that the Head Teacher, Mrs Tracy Coombs, had been in post for nearly one year and the school had gone from strength to strength. Eight children had passed the Kent 11+ exam and eight had passed the 11+ test for Medway. Seventeen children to date had got their first choice for secondary school. Absenteeism now stood  at 3.8%  and reportable accidents had dropped by more than 50%. There were now 16 different out of hours clubs operating at the school, and 15 young playleaders had been trained to lead games at play times. All children were expected to achieve their targets thanks to more intervention and individual planned teaching as well as some  pupils receiving boostering sessions in Maths.


i.     Merston Court.

       The Chairman reported that Barbara West had been delighted to learn of the Parish Council grant for Merston Court.


j.     Higham Youth Club.

       Cllr. Sutherland reported that the digital projector was now working. A total of 36 youngsters had attended the club the previous Wednesday.


m.    PACT.

        Peter Leakey reported that the Borough Dog Warden had attended the last PACT Meeting. Details of how to make contact with him had been published in The Bridge.

        It was suggested that they should also be placed on the Parish noticeboards and in the Post Office and Library.


n.     Kent Community Warden.

        The Clerk reported that the next Community Surgery/Coffee Morning would be held on 29/4. Operation Zig Zag , at Higham Primary School, had been a great success with 5 warnings having been passed to parents. Four instances of fly tipping within the Parish had been reported to Gravesham Borough Council. The Walking Bus continued to be well used on both routes but more volunteers were needed.


o.     Kent Police.

        The Chairman reported that it was understood that PCSO Darren Fielding had now accepted a position with Kent Police and would not be returning to Higham.



The Clerk presented the quarterly financial statement for the period 1/1/10 to 31/3/10. She asked for approval for the items shown on the agenda, this being proposed by Cllr.Pearton , seconded by Cllr. James and agreed by all Members.


Joanne Raff (Youth Leader – February)                                                                  319.80

Clive Stanley (domain name and server hosting renewal)                                          249.10

Southern Water (allotments)                                                                                     30.04

B.T.Payment Services Ltd. (broadband)                                                                  129.48

1st Higham Scouts (Sect. 137/139 grant – newsletter delivery)                                   80.00

Lesley Topping (food for APA – Sect. 150(2) L.G.Act 1972)                                   190.00

St. John’s College, Cambridge (½ year rent for RG)                                                187.50

KALC (2010 subscription and Parish News)                                                          1098.23

J.A.Stanley (preparation of 2010 newsletter)                                                            250.40

Clive Stanley (webmaster services 1/1/10 – 11/3/10)                                                 70.00

Clerk’s salary (1/1/10 – 31/3/10 – net)                                                                    2111.10

Expenses – use of room as office (1/1/10 – 31/3/10)                                                227.50

HM Revenue and Customs (PAYE/NI(employer/employee)                                    370.50

1st  Higham Guides (Sect. 137/139 grant)                                                                100.00

1st Higham Scouts (Sect. 137/139 grant)                                                                 100.00

Age Concern (Sect 137/139 grant)                                                                           350.00

Higham with Merston PCC (Sect. 137/139 grant – St. John’s Church)                      300.00

Higham Youth Club (Sect 137/139 grant)                                                                 150.00


Members ratified the increases to both the Clerk’s and Youth Leader’s salaries, agreed at the Budget and Finance Meeting, with effect from 1st April 2010, this being proposed by Cllr. Pearton, seconded by Cllr. James and agreed by all Members.


Members unanimously agreed to increase allotment rents to £10 per plot with effect from 1st April 2010 to take into account the long waiting list for plots at the present time.



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 the signed Risk Assessment document would be sent to Allianz Insurance as confirmation of Recreation Ground play equipment inspection procedures.

2.   Members noted the date of the audit – 1st June 2010.

3.   Confirmation had been received from Allianz Insurance that the missing Dickens sign could now be replaced.

4.   An application would be made to the Comma Aggregates Fund for additional play equipment for the Recreation Ground. 


To note the date of the 2011 Annual Parish Assembly.

This was given as being Thursday, 14th April 2011.


To note the dates of the next Parish Council Meetings.

These were given as follows:-

Annual Parish Assembly – Thursday, 15th April 2010 at 7.30 p.m.

Annual Parish Council Meeting, followed by a Parish Council Meeting – Monday, 10th May 2010 at 7.30 p.m.


Any Other Business.

Discussion took place amongst Members regarding whether Councillors should declare an interest at each Parish Council Meeting if they were a representative on a Committee. It was agreed that this point needed to be clarified at the forthcoming Code of Conduct Training Day on 2/6.


Members further discussed the use of the Recreation Ground for football teams within the village. Members felt that the Mens’ team had given insufficient notice to all parties for the necessary arrangements to be made for the forthcoming season, and should be asked to find a pitch elsewhere until an additional playing surface could be found in the village.  It was agreed that the Chairman would contact Mr Craggs at Gads Hill School to see if their football pitch and showers could be used. The Clerk agreed to make enquiries regarding the Parish Council leasing another area of farmland, near to the Recreation Ground and the changing rooms, which could be turned into a playing surface with grant aid from the league.


There being no other business, the Meeting finally closed at 10.45 p.m.



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