Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the October 2012 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, 8th October 2012 at 7.30 p.m.


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

                                               Borough Councillor: Cllr. H. Craske.

                                               Councillors: G, Ashby, A Carroll, J.Grey, A.Howard, M.James, P.Oakeshott,  L.Pearton,  B. Sutherland, and S.Wright.

 In attendance:                       Steve Gray – Kent Community Warden

                                               Liz Jeffery – Parish Council Press Officer                                

                                               5 Parishioners.                                                                                                      

Apologies for absence:          Received from Cllr. M. Snelling (County Councillor), Cllr. Mendzil, and PCSO Rob Meader.


The Chairman accepted apologies for absence.

There were no alterations to the Register of Members Interests.

The Clerk reported that it had been necessary to purchase a wet pour repair kit to repair a one foot square hole that had been cut in the safety surfacing underneath the swings. The repair work had been carried out by Gravesham Leisure free of charge. Steve Gray had reported the incident to the Police and had met with Officers at the Recreation Ground.


The Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held on Monday, 10th September 2012, were confirmed and signed.


Matters arising from the Minutes.

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

 a.   P. 1062. Matters arising. Vehicles mounting the pavement – Forge Lane. Wooden bollards were now to be placed on the edge of the pavement.

b.    P. 1063. List of small jobs. This was now with Rebecca Scott-Beaulieu of Kent Highways. Cllr. Wright was thanked for clearing away the brambles from the seat to School Lane opposite The Orchards.

c.    P. 1063. Proposed safety improvements. Cllr. James reported that this work would be placed with the contractor within the next ten days. It was agreed that the proposed crossing points by the Surgery should be replaced by two at the end of Taylors Lane and all should  have white lines painted in front of them to deter parking. Cllr. James agreed to liaise direct with Kent Highways regarding the alterations to this scheme.

d.   P. 1064. Borough. Late school buses. The request for a change in the school bus timetable, due to the roadworks, had now been sent to Daniel Washington.

e.    P. 1064. Lorry traffic. Cllr. Ashby confirmed that he had visited the Nuralite site and the gatekeeper was willing to remind drivers of the correct lorry route through the village.

e.    P. 1064. Parish. Surface flooding. Following the Clerk’s telephone conversation with the Drainage Engineer, Jamie Finch, Cllr. Sutherland reported that a hump was to be installed at the bottom of Norah Lane and drains to Walmers Avenue had been cleared.Cllr. Ashby expressed concern regarding a new crossover at the property which he believed might be adding to the problem. Cllr. Craske reported that a surveyors report was currently awaited regarding the flooding problems at St. John’s Church.

f.    P. 1064. Parish. Sharon Donald had been advised regarding the overgrown amenity land at the Chequers. Cllr. Craske agreed to check the planning permission granted.

g.    P.1064. Parish. Implementation of new CPZ times. Cllr. Grey confirmed that he had not been allowed to speak at the recent JTB Meeting. He reported that he would refer this  matter to the Ombudsman if he felt that nothing was being done.

h.    P.1066. AOB. Cllr. James reported that he was still dealing with the removal of the fish sale signs from various local sites and the installation of the fly tipping signs to Crutches Lane.

i.    Web site report. For the last 12 month rolling period alone there had been a total of 38,046 hits to the website with 3454  visitors in September.


Parishioners’ Matters.

Katie Roberts, of Hermitage Road, outlined current problems relating to a neighbouring property and questioned how stipulations regarding the granting of planning permission could be monitored and reported. Cllrs. Craske and Pearton agreed to investigate this matter and speak with the Enforcement Officer before reporting back direct to the Parishioner.


To receive an update on the renewal of the Recreation Ground lease.

The Clerk reported that all copies of correspondence with the solicitor had been emailed to Members in advance of the Meeting and were also contained within the correspondence folder. A Meeting had taken place between the Chairman, Mrs Green, the Clerk and our solicitor following which he had written an extremely clear instruction letter to our valuer setting out the current position. Mrs Green had additionally provided photographic evidence, both archive and current, of the ongoing vandalism problems at the premises. A meeting was in the process of being arranged between the valuer and Mr Dixon, the landlord’s agent, and Mrs Green had offered for this to be held at the Pavilion.


To adopt a new Code of Conduct.

The Clerk reported that the Borough Council had adopted the revised Kent Code of Conduct and had urged all Parish Councils to do likewise. Copies of all paperwork relating to the new Code had been circulated to Members prior to the Meeting and following discussion it was proposed by Cllr. Oakeshott, seconded by Cllr. James and agreed by all Members that the Kent Code of Conduct be formally adopted by the Parish Council from the date of this Meeting.


To further discuss future library service within the village.

The Clerk reported on a recent feasibility meeting held at Higham Library to explore the possibility of providing a coffee shop within the building. Kate Reeves, of Higham Oven Bake, had expressed an interest in this venture and had attended the meeting. It was likely that a competitive tendering process would be set up to decide who would run the coffee shop which would be sited next to the big front window of the library. The operator would provide all the necessary equipment to run the outlet except for some cafe style tables and chairs which it was hoped it might be possible to obtain with a grant. Initially this venture would mirror the hours that the library was currently open but there would be no objection to the coffee shop hours being extended if it should prove to be popular. It was also hoped that local groups would hire the library space for their activities/meetings and some new groups might be encouraged to start up. Concern had been expressed regarding the lack of suitable disabled toilet facilities within the building and this would be investigated.


Councillors’ Matters.


As Cllr. Snelling was unable to attend the meeting he had sent a written report. Cllr. Snelling  reminded the Parish Council that the draft budget proposals had now gone out for public consultation via the KCC website and he urged them to respond. It was proposed to make savings of £60 million by reorganising the way in which services were provided rather than cuts to the services themselves.



Cllr Craske reported that he had met the Mayor of Gravesham at St. Mary’s church on 7/10 as part of the annual Beating of the Bounds walk route. Cllr.Lyn Milner had visited the church and admired the display of scarecrows before signing the visitor’s book. The recent news of a proposed Theme Park to be built between Gravesend and Dartford had been welcomed by the Bough Council.



Cllr.Oakeshott reported that she had received complaints regarding the state of the road surface at Gads Hill which was covered in mud. She had also been advised that there was to be a Public Meeting at Cliffe, organised by Radio Kent, to deal with the topic of a new airport in the Thames Estuary. The Clerk was asked to obtain tickets for those who wished to attend.

Cllr. Ashby reported that street lights were unlit in School Lane close to the junction with Taylors Lane and at the entrance to the Memorial Hall. No remedial works had taken place yet to Villa Road although it was supposed to be resurfaced at the end of October. Kent Highways had sent an enforcement letter to The Brambles regarding the encroachment issue.

Cllr. Grey reported that the tree replanting to Jupp Court had still not taken place. He had attended the recent Highways Seminar and been advised that there were to be self-help lengthsmen (village caretakers) who were to be part funded by the Parish Council. The new contractors engaged by Kent Highways would be paid on results.

Cllr. Sutherland reminded Members that volunteers were again sought to join the snow clearance team within the village over the winter months. The Clerk agreed to ensure notices were placed throughout the village and on the website. Liz Jeffery would advertise in the Gravesend Messenger. Cllr. Sutherland agreed to check the salt levels in the Parish Council  salt bins and report back at the next Meeting.

Cllr. Pearton reported that a lorry had demolished a garden wall in Canal Road and it was agreed to ask Kent Highways if additional street  lighting could be installed on the part of the road near the junction. Cllr. Pearton had also been asked if an additional bus stop could be provided at Villa Road as the elderly found it difficult to negotiate the steps down to Irvine Road from the A226 and the existing bus stop.    






a.    Planning.

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


Appln. no. 20120750   12, Peggoty Close.

Demolition of existing conservatory and erection of a single storey rear extension to form a kitchen/diner.

Appln. no. 20120804   24, Hollytree Drive.

Construction of dormer windows in front and rear roof slopes and conversion of roof space into a bedroom with ensuite bathroom.


h.    Governors of Higham Primary School.

       Cllr. James reported on recent changes to the teaching staff at the school. The school had been congratulated by the Director of Education, Learning and Skills for pleasing improvements over the past three years. SATs had shown that the school had had its highest results for many years and 100% of children had attained two levels of progress in Maths and 96% in English.


m.  Neighbourhood Forum (formerly PACT).

       Peter Leakey reported that only one resident had attended the last Meeting and he had highlighted continuing problems with parking around the Gardeners corner and traffic illegally crossing at the junction. It had also been felt that loading bays for vehicles needed to be provided in both Forge Lane and Villa Road either side of the public house.  Members were not in agreement with this idea or the provision of double yellow lines around the Gardeners junction which would be both difficult to enforce and have an adverse effect on local traders. Mr Leakey agreed contact Kent Highways himself to see what they would suggest.


n.    Kent Community Warden.

       Steve Gray reported that four counts of fly tipping had been removed from the village. The Community Surgery and Afternoon Tea would continue to be held in spite of poor attendances. The next would take place on 25th October. Steve would be on duty in the village on late shift for both  Halloween and Bonfire Night. He passed two correx signs regarding fly tipping to be displayed within the village to Cllr. James .He reported that the verge to the top of Forge Lane had been damaged by vehicles parking on it and required reinstatement.


o.    Kent Police.

       In the absence of PCSO Rob Meader the Clerk reported that he had increased high visibility foot patrols at Higham Recreation Ground due to the criminal damage to the  rubber matting. Following a residential burglary in Ash Crescent property marking kits had been delivered to neighbouring properties.



The Clerk asked for approval for the items shown on the following list, this being proposed by Cllr. James,  seconded by Cllr.Howard,  and agreed by all Members.


St. John’s College Cambridge ( ½  year rent for R.G. by S.O.)                              256.16

Clive Stanley (webmaster services 21/6/12 – 30/9/11)                                           213.50   

Clerk’s salary (net amount 1/7/12 – 30/9/12)                                                        2772.42 

HMRC (Clerk’s PAYE/NI (Employer/Employee))                                                658.14

Use of room as office (1/7/12 – 30/9/12)                                                                227.50

Admin. Exps / 2012 events (1/7/12 – 30/9/12)                                                     1216.60

Abacus Playgrounds (repair kit safety surfacing)                                                     78.00

Audit Commission (2012 audit)                                                                             342.00

SLCC (Clerk membership)                                                                                     140.00    



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.    Cllr. James agreed to respond to the KCC Budget Consultation document on behalf of the Parish Council.

2.    Members noted the provision of a free hand pulled salt spreader from Kent Highways and expressed their gratitude.


To note the dates of the next Parish Council Meetings.

These were given as being Monday, 12th November at 7.30 p.m. for the Budget and Finance Meeting and the Christmas Meeting would be held on Monday, 26th November 2012 at 7.30 p.m. with the Mayor of Gravesham in attendance.


Any Other Business.

The Clerk asked that the date for the Proms concert in 2013 be changed to 12/7/13 to avoid clashing with Wimbledon and Members were in agreement.



There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 10.10 p.m.            


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