Higham Parish Council
Minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly, April 2012
[Draft -- to be confirmed at the 2013 Assembly]
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Minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Thursday, 12th April 2012 at 7.30 p.m.
Present: Cllr Mrs J.M.Papadopulos (Chairman)
County Councillor: Cllr. M. Snelling.
Borough Councillor: Cllr. H. Craske.
Councillors:- G. Ashby, A Carroll, J. Grey, A. Howard,
P. Oakeshott, L. Pearton (also Borough), B.Sutherland,
and S. Wright.
In attendance: 30 Parishioners
Kent Community Warden Steve Gray.
Liz Jeffery – Village Correspondent and Parish Press Officer.
Apologies for absence: Received from Cllrs. James and Mendzil.
PCSO Rob Meader
The Meeting was opened by the Chairman who warmly welcomed all those present and thanked them for attending.
A special floral presentation was made to Cllr. Oakeshott who had been advised that she was to receive a “Pride in Gravesham Award” in recognition of the special contribution that she had made to the lives of the older people in the Borough.
The Chairman explained that the format for the evening would be the same as the previous year. Most reports normally given at the Assembly were now contained in the Parish Newsletter, which had been circulated throughout the village. The Chairman emphasised that the Parish Council still wished to hear the views and opinions of those Parishioners present, and she invited them to make comment accordingly.
The Minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly, held on Thursday, 14th April 2011, were confirmed and signed.
Matters arising from the Minutes.
The Clerk reported that:-
1. Cllr. Sweetland had toured the Parish with Cllr. Ashby looking at the state of the roads and pavements.
2. The Parish Council had requested that the traffic safety improvements to the centre of the village be included in its list of Highway Priorities for 2012/2013.
To receive the Annual Report of the Parish Council.
The Chairman ensured that all persons present had a copy of the “Higham Parish Council Annual Newsletter and Reports 2012” booklet before proceeding further. She proposed that all reports would be taken as read, and invited comments from Parishioners at the end of each item.
a. Allotments (P. 43)
b. Planning (P. 9)
c. Recreation Ground (P. 12)
The draft simplified statement of accounts for 2011/2012 (P.6) was agreed by all those present, this being proposed by Cllr. Oakeshott, and seconded by Cllr. Pearton. Those present noted that the balance to be carried forward into the new financial year was £14,011.26 and that this figure included unused general and specific contingency funds, and funds for work carried out, and for which invoices were still awaited.
Report from County Council Representative.
Cllr. Snelling had submitted a written report which had been provided for all Parishioners (copy here).
The County Council had frozen Council Tax for the second year running and intended to preserve front line services as far as possible in spite of having to make savings of £320 million over a four year period. It was now believed that the cash deposited with the Icelandic banks would all be returned. The restructuring of the Highways Department had proved to be both popular and successful. Local projects funded by the County Council and recently completed included the Town Centre Library and the Cyclopark was due to open in the Spring. It was hoped that the Town Pier Pontoon would be operational in time to receive the visitors for the summer Olympics. Cllr. Snelling remained convinced that the Government would opt for more capacity at Dartford after introducing cashless tolls to solve the need for another Lower Thames Crossing. KCC was currently reviewing the provision of both Youth and Library Services in the County and was putting £10 million into the provision of superfast broadband for Kent businesses and residents.
Report from District Council Representatives.
Cllr. Harold Craske reported that a recent Meeting regarding the Lower Thames Crossing (with CPRE) had hinted that it would be situated at Dartford to make use of the existing infrastructure. It was hoped that speculation regarding the Estuary Airport would die down following the May elections for the Mayor of London. The recent packed Meeting, dealing with the Local Development Framework, was testimony to the depth of feeling in the village against building on green belt land and as a result the Borough Council had now changed its mind. The Government had recently produced updated planning guidance stating that the green belt must be protected but could be changed. There would be a special planning policy for traveller sites. Olympic flags and bunting, provided by LOCOG, would soon decorate the A226 Gravesend Road which would be the route for the Olympic Torch Relay through the village on 20/7. Cllr. Craske appealed to those present to read the article on P.25 of the Annual Parish Newsletter entitled “Make Kent Quicker” and register an interest in a fast broadband service for the village.
The Chairman reminded those present that there would be two bands playing for the assembled crowds as they waited for the Olympic Torch to arrive. Patterns for making mob caps and aprons would be available to borrow from both Higham Library and the Post Office and it was hoped that as many Parishioners as possible would dress in Dickensian Costume to line the route.
Cllr. Pearton drew attention to the yellow pull out section of the newsletter which gave details of a variety of events planned within the village to celebrate 2012 and asked Parishioners to try and attend as many as possible.
Report from the Governors of Higham Primary School (P.20)
Report of the Kent Association of Local Councils (P.9)
To receive reports from Village Bodies and Voluntary Organisations (to be found throughout the booklet).
The Chairman thanked Judi Stanley for all her help in compiling the copy material for the newsletter.
She also thanked Clive Stanley for his help in maintaining the Parish Council website.
She thanked Jo Raff, Youth Leader, and her team of volunteers, for the tremendous work that they had carried out with the youngsters in the village.
Clive Stanley reported that over 8,000 people had already responded to the “Make Kent Quicker” campaign. For those who owned a smartphone the QR symbol had been displayed in the article and when clicked would register a vote. Clive understood that although BT had plans to update the Medway exchange to cope with superfast broadband it did not appear at present to be including the smaller Shorne exchange in these plans.
To consider any other matters raised by Parishioners.
Cllr. Grey reported that Parishioners had expressed concern regarding the demolition of Oakdene on Gravesend Road and the danger of asbestos pollution to local residents. Cllr. Craske agreed to urgently speak to the Borough Council, which was carrying out an analysis of the material.
Any Other Business.
Steve Gray reminded Parishioners of his monthly surgery which was held in St. John’s church hall during the afternoon of the last Thursday of the month. He was based in Higham Library and his contact telephone number and email address could be found in the newsletter.
The Chairman welcomed Tim Bell, Head Ranger, North West Country Parks, KCC, who gave a talk entitled “Shorne Woods Country Park – Countryside and History”.
To receive an update on the renewal of the Recreation Ground lease.
The Chairman reported that the 28 year lease for the Recreation Ground was due to expire in October and a replacement had been offered. Negotiations were just about to commence regarding the new rent but it seemed almost certain that this would be an increase on what we were currently paying. It also seemed likely that the proceedings would be protracted as negotiations would include the Recreation Ground, Multi-Purpose Games Area and the Pavilion. Progress would be reported at Parish Council Meetings and displayed in the Minutes.
To note the date of the next Annual Parish Assembly.
This was given as being Thursday, 11th April 2013 at 7.30 p.m.
The Chairman thanked fellow Members of the Parish Council, the County Representative, and the Borough Representatives, for their support over the past year.
She thanked the Clerk for her continued hard work.
She thanked Kate Reeves, of Higham Oven Bake, for providing a delicious buffet.
Finally, in closing, she thanked all Parishioners for attending the Meeting and welcomed them back next year, and to future Meetings of the Parish Council
There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 9.50 p.m.
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