Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the April 2011 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, 4th April 2011 at 7.30 p.m.

Present: Cllr. Mrs J.M. Papadopulos (Chairman)
County Councillor:- Cllr. M. Snelling.
Borough Councillor:- Cllr. B. Sweetland.
Councillors: J.A.Grey, A.L.Howard, M.L.James,
Mrs A. Mendzil, Mrs P.Oakeshott (also Borough), L.M.Pearton,
Mrs M. Scott, B. Sutherland, and S.Wright.
In attendance: Tom Hawkwood – Area Supervisor, Kent Community Wardens.
Liz Jeffery – Press Officer.
5 Parishioners.
Apologies for absence: Received from Cllr.Walton, PC Gemma Pawley and Kent Community Warden Steve Gray.

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, 21st February 2011, were confirmed and signed.

Matters arising from the Minutes.
Including an update of actions from the last Minutes, the Clerk reported that:-
a. P. 995. Parishioners’ Matters. The Something2do report had been included in the newsletter.
b. P. 996 Protest Meeting. A well attended Meeting to protest against the Lower Thames Crossing had been held in Shorne Village Hall.
c. P.996 Proms 2012. Mrs Coombes had confirmed that it would be possible to hire the school field for £100. The Medway Band would charge £400 for the evening and portable toilets had been sourced at the cost of £50 per unit plus VAT and delivery. Paul Gibbons had confirmed that the Memorial Hall car park toilets were now functional and would be available for the event. Following discussion Members decided against moving the venue for the event this year as in 2012 it would have to be held in the Recreation Ground because of the additional firework display. They did not however rule out the use of the school facilities in future years and the Clerk was asked to inform Mrs Coombes accordingly.
d. P. 997. Borough. Confirmation had now been received from Medway Council that the long awaited lorry sign could be erected.
e. P.997. Parish. The amended times for the CPZ had again been notified to Paul Gibbons.
f. Web site report. For the past 12 month rolling period there had been a total of 36,949 hits to the website with 3152 visitors in March alone.

Parishioners’ Matters.
Mr Ashby, of Norah Lane, passed copies of a detailed report about the standard of current road repairs within the Parish to both Cllr. Snelling and Cllr. Sweetland.
Daniel Annals, of Highview, expressed concern that Higham had no access to superfast broadband at the present time. Cllr. Mendzil outlined the process to apply for the necessary funding for its installation, which would entail demonstrating a need within the village and collecting signatures. As the first round of applications had had to be submitted by mid April it had been decided to defer making an application for funding until the Autumn. Cllr. James suggested that both Higham Primary School and Gads Hill should be approached with a view to providing the necessary evidence.

Annual Parish Assembly 2011.
The Clerk reported that the Members of the Parish Newsletter Committee had considered quotations of £1145 from Aspect Press and £1105 from Willow Print for the printing of the 2011 newsletter. (A third printer from the Medway Towns had not produced a quotation on time). Aspect Press offered a quicker turnaround of the work and had been chosen. Newsletters were now being delivered throughout the village. 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. Members agreed to meet at the Hall in the afternoon to prepare for the Meeting in the evening.

Higham Gardens for Pleasure Competition 2011.
The Chairman agreed to contact Morton Grey regarding the judging of the competition. At the next Meeting Members would be ask to sign up for roads within the Parish to produce the short list.

To review and approve the risk assessment document.
Copies of the amended document had been circulated to Members prior to the Meeting. It was proposed by Cllr. Sutherland, seconded by Cllr. Pearton and agreed by all Members that the updated document should be approved and signed.

To review the provision of new allotments to the allotment gardens.
Copies of a revised plan of the allotment gardens showing twelve new plots and associated parking space, and letters of objection received from the residents of Thamesview Cottages had been circulated to all Members prior to the Meeting. Cllr. Howard reported that he and Cllr. Wright had measured out the new plots and parking spaces and these had now been treated by the farmer so that the grass would die back within a couple of weeks so that they could be cultivated. Further plots could be added in the future, if needed. Members noted the concerns of residents outlined in their letters and from Mr White, a resident of Thamesview Cottages, who was present at the Meeting. The rear of the cottages and the allotment gardens were accessed via a rough track adjacent to the first cottage. Residents were concerned that the increase in traffic using this track as a result of the additional plots created would cause vibration and damage to their properties and also to the waste pipes to the cess pit which lay under the track. The ownership of the track was unknown as it was not a right of way and a conversation with Mr Whitebread had revealed that it was not owned by his family. The allotments could only be reached via this track as the lower access to the site via Paddy Lodge Lane was only a footpath. In view of the concerns of the residents Members agreed to look further into these issues raised before the new plots were allocated. The Clerk reported that Mr Whitebread had agreed to meet with Cllr. Wright on the allotment gardens to discuss solutions as to how the unworkable plots might be cleared.

Higham celebrations in 2012.
The Clerk confirmed that a Meeting had been held to discuss a possible timetable of events within the village to mark the Bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the London Olympics and the 150th Anniversary of St. John’s Church. These events would take place over two consecutive weekends:- 6th/7th/8th July and 13th/14th/15th July 2012. The Proms Concert on the first evening would be followed by a firework display which it was hoped would be funded by the Grand Village Draw being organised by the Scouts. It was hoped that Higham Primary School would hold a Dickensian Fair on the first Saturday, at which local groups would be invited to run stalls, and a Barn Dance would be held at the Memorial Hall in the evening. On Sunday, a concert would take place at St. Mary’s Church. The second weekend would see a Treasure Hunt through the village on the Friday and a Dickensian Cricket Match with a hog roast being followed by a “Higham’s Got Talent” Competition on Saturday. The popular Village Parade/Picnic/Disco would be held on the final Sunday to bring the celebrations to a close. It was agreed that the Clerk would liaise with Mr Craggs to see what celebrations were being planned by Gads Hill School for 2012.

Councillors’ Matters.

Cllr. Snelling thanked Mr Ashby for his detailed report about the current standard of road repairs within the Parish and confirmed that he was committed to ensuring that there was value for money. He reported that a restructuring of the County Council would see several long standing senior officers retire and produce a £790,000 saving in costs. A recent court case had found in favour of the County Council regarding the money it had invested in Iceland and, as it was now a preferred creditor, it was hoped that most would now be recoverable. The “Find and Fix” programme for the repair of potholes was continuing. Some 2500 new jobs had been created in North Kent by the wind turbine industry.
Cllr. Oakeshott asked if there were currently any vacancies at the Borough Council traveller site at Northfleet and Cllr. Snelling agreed to look into this matter and report back to the Parish Council.

Cllr. Sweetland confirmed that the request to fund the lorry sign, the installation of which had now been approved by Medway Council, had been agreed at the last JTB Meeting and it was noted that when this took place a small black and white sign needed to be removed. A new garden waste service had recently been launched with special brown wheelie bins which were emptied every two weeks and cost £30. There had been alterations to the rules regarding concessionary bus passes for the elderly and infirm with the new travel time being 9.30 a.m. to 11.00 p.m. weekdays.
As this was Cllr. Sweetland’s last visit to the Parish Council, due to the forthcoming Borough Election, the Chairman thanked him for all his help and advice and wished him well for the future.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that improved pavement reinstatement had been requested in Oak Drive following the recent gas main works. One of the new bollards to the bottom of School Lane had been knocked over by a reversing bus and the matter had been reported. The Older Peoples Forum would be launched on 11/5 at the Woodville Halls. To celebrate the forthcoming Royal Wedding a big parade of schoolchildren would take place on 28/4 followed by the opening of the new town square.

Cllr. Pearton expressed concern that the new garden wheelie bins could easily be stolen if they were stored in the front garden. He asked that the whereabouts of the missing Forge Lane street nameplate be established.
Cllr. James reported that the road narrows sign at the top of Crutches Lane was hidden in the overgrown hedge. The extra bus stops to Watling Street by the roundabout would be operational over the next few weeks. As a revised timetable would be issued, and Cllr. James had agreed to deliver the same to local residents, it was agreed to provide a sticker to the front of these leaflets explaining this Parish Council intervention and urging local residents to use the new service.
Cllr. Mendzil sought help from fellow Members as to the best way to campaign for improved broadband facilities within the village. To qualify for funding help later in the year a need had to be proved and a team of helpers needed to be established. It was suggested that a petition be placed in the Post Office and a house to house canvass be carried out. Cllr. James again reiterated the need to contact both Higham Primary School and Gads Hill School to boost the numbers on the petition.
Cllr. Grey reported that it appeared that all the trees to Jupp Court had died and Cllr. Oakeshott agreed to contact Sharon Donald to advise her accordingly. He urged consideration of two sections of double yellow lines to School Lane to act as passing places and aid traffic congestion.
Cllr. Howard urged that verge reinstatement should now take place following the completion of the building works at The Orchards.



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

Appln. no. 20110067 5, St. John’s Close.
Erection of single storey rear extension to form a lounge/diner and erection of a detached double garage at the rear.
Appln. no. 20110112 Karibu, Old Watling Street.
Erection of two storey rear and first floor side extension to form dining room, office and WC at ground floor level with two bedrooms and two ensuite shower room/WC’s at first floor level and erection of a front porch.
Appln. no. 20110138 The Hedgerows, Chalk Road.
Use of land for the stationing of two mobile homes and one touring caravan; retention of the two detached buildings for use as a utility room and stables on a permanent basis.
Appln. no. 20110189 24, Telegraph Hill.
Application for the renewal of planning permission reference number 20040589 allowed on appeal reference number APP/K2230/A/05/1191438 for demolition of existing dwelling and sub-division of site into 2 plots and erection of a detached two/three storey dwelling with detached double garage at the front, on the proposed northern-most plot,
Appln. no. 20110190 24, Telegraph Hill.
Application for renewal of planning permission reference number 20040588 allowed on appeal reference number APP/K2230/A/05/1191188 for demolition of existing dwelling and the sub-division of the site into two plots and erection of a detached 2/3 storey dwelling with attached double garage at the front of the southern most plot.
Appln. no. 20110207 Farcombe Hall, Canal Road.
Erection of single storey front/side extension to form a utility room and shower room/WC.

It was agreed that the Clerk would notify the residents of The Braes regarding the planning application received for 24, Telegraph Hill as this development would overlook the existing properties in the road.

h. Governors of Higham School.
Cllr. James reported problems with vehicles stopping, and parking on the zig-zag lines outside the school and reversing into the school entrance. PCSO Peter Hylands agreed to carry out spot checks to monitor the situation and inform Paul Gibbons. Cllr. James also confirmed that there had been a reduction in capital funding for the school from £38,000 to £6000 which would affect the ability of the school to carry out necessary repairs to the buildings but would not affect staff numbers at the school.

j. Higham Youth Club.
Cllr. Sutherland reported that Jo Raff had been successful in securing funding of £700 from the remainder of Cllr. Snelling’s Members Grant which would allow the use of the Multi-Purpose Sports Facility by both youth groups on a weekly basis. Cllr. Oakeshott confirmed that Glynis Selby had offered her help to the club.

k. Chalk Liaison Group.
It was agreed that a Meeting of this group would be arranged during the summer to discuss the Lower Thames Crossing issue.

m. PACT.
Peter Leakey reported that the next PACT Meeting would be held on 6/9/11. The Meeting originally planned for June had been cancelled at the present time.

n. Kent Community Warden.
In the absence of Steve Gray, Tom Hawkwood reported that 2 counts of fly tipping had been reported and collected by the Borough Council. Poor attendances at the Coffee Mornings/Community Surgeries had prompted a decision to try moving these events to an evening and it was hoped that the first of these would be held in May in Higham Library.A litter pick with Higham Beavers had collected 3 sacks of rubbish from around the Memorial Hall, car park and recreation ground.

o. Kent Police.
PCSO Peter Hylands reported that a new “on-line” surgery was to be launched the following evening at 7.30 p.m. Some patrols were now carried out on push bikes and a new initiative called “Country Eye” had been set up for farmers and very rural properties. Mr Ashby, of Norah Lane, reported problems with a yellow off-road quad bike which had been seen in the Taylors Lane area at weekends. PCSO Hylands noted the details and agreed to pass them to the motor bike team who were due to visit the village at the weekend.

The Clerk presented the quarterly financial statement for the period 1/1/11 to 31/3/11. She asked for approval for the items listed below this being proposed by Cllr. James, seconded by Cllr. Scott and agreed by all Members.

Joanne Raff (Youth Leader – February) 351.00
P.J.Office Services (repair of printer) 102.60
Southern Water (allotments) 196.19
1st Higham Scouts (Sect. 137/139 grant – newsletter delivery) 85.00
Lesley Topping (foor for APA – Sect. 150(2) L.G.Act 1972) 220.00
St. John’s College, Cambridge ( ½ year rent for R.G.) 250.00
KALC (2011 subscription and Parish News) 1149.92
J.A.Stanley (preparation of 2011 newsletter) 264.00
Clive Stanley (webmaster services 1/1/11 – 24/3/11) 91.00
Clerk’s salary (1/1/11 - 31/3/11) 2523.51
Expenses – use of room as office (1/1/11 – 31/3/11) 227.50
HM Revenue and Customs (PAYE/NI (employer/employee)) 632.13
1st Higham Scouts (Sect, 137/139 grant) 100.00
Higham 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) 160.00
Mrs B. Smith (Sect. 137/139 grant – Something2do…) 280.00
Joanne Raff (Youth Leader – March) 486.00

Members ratified the increases to both the Clerk’s and Youth Leader’s salaries, agreed at the Budget and Finance Meeting, this being proposed by Cllr. Oakeshott, seconded by Cllr. Pearton and agreed by all Members.

Being mindful of the long waiting list for allotment plots at the present time, Members unanimously agreed to increase allotment rents to £12 per plot, and £7.50 per half plot with effect from 1st April 2011.


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 Members of both another mens and another boys football team had asked if they could use the Recreation Ground for fixtures.

To note the dates of the next Parish Council Meetings.
These was given as follows:-
Annual Parish Assembly – Thursday 14th April 2011 at 7.30 p.m.
Annual Parish Council Meeting, followed by a Parish Council Meeting - Monday, 9th May 2011 at 7.30 p.m.

Any Other Business.
None was brought to the notice of the Meeting.

Before closing the last Meeting of the present four year term of office of the Parish Council the Chairman expressed gratitude for all the Councillors’ efforts and support. On behalf of the Members of the Parish Council, Cllr. James thanked Cllr. Papadopulos for her excellent leadership and dedication.

There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 10.02 p.m.



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