Higham Parish Council
Minutes of the February 2013 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, 25th February 2013 at 7.30 p.m.
Present: Cllr. Mrs J.M.Papadopulos (Chairman)
Kent County Councillor: Cllr. B. Sweetland.
Councillors: G.Ashby, A. Carroll, J. Grey, A.Howard,
M.James, A. Mendzil, P. Oakeshott, L. Pearton (also
Borough) and B.Sutherland
In attendance: 3 Parishioners
Kent Community Warden Steve Gray.
Liz Jeffery – Village Correspondent and Press Officer.
Apologies for absence: Received from Cllr. H. Craske (Borough) and Cllr. Wright.
PCSO Rob Meader
The Chairman welcomed those present to the Meeting with the good news that Jo Raff had achieved an AQYP quality assurance kitemark for Higham Youth Club and was the first Youth Club within Gravesham to achieve this distinction. The award would be presented at a special evening to be held at Leeds Castle at the end of March.
The Chairman accepted apologies for absence.
There were no alterations to the Register of Members Interests.
The Clerk reported that the last inspection of the Recreation Ground had revealed no problems.
The Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting, held on Monday, 28th January 2013, were confirmed and signed.
Matters arising from the Minutes.
Including an update of actions from the last Minutes, the Clerk reported that:-
a. P. 1076. Matters arising. Snow clearance. The bulk bag of sand/salt had now been transferred to the village and all salt bins had now been refilled.
b. P. 1076. Bund to Walmers Avenue. Since the last Meeting the bund had now been removed. It was agreed that Cllr. Sweetland and Cllr. Ashby would meet on site to review the matter.
c. P. 1077. Parishioners’ Matters. An objection had been submitted to the Cascades planning application.
d. P. 1077. Future Library Services Meeting. This had taken place as arranged with a small number of Parishioners attending.
e. P.1080. Correspondence. Maps of the locations of the fire hydrants had now been obtained and an article had been placed in the newsletter asking Parishioners for their help in identifying problems.
f. Web site report. Clive Stanley reported that during the rolling 12 month period there had been a total of 42,066 hits to the Parish website with 3,486 visitors in January alone. Clive reported that we had almost filled our 50Mb hosting server allowance of webspace. It was unanimously agreed to purchase an additional 50Mb of webspace immediately which would bring forward the renewal to January 2014 and cost £99 plus VAT per year.
Cllr. James thanked Cllrs. Howard and Sutherland for their help in putting up the fly tipping signs (P. 1076 refers). He confirmed that repair works were still outstanding to one part of Crutches Lane but would be completed later (P. 1077 refers) and under the “Find and Fix” scheme there were two potholes to Crutches Lane and several on the London Bound slip road of the Wainscott By Pass.
None were brought to the notice of the Meeting.
To receive an update on the renewal of the Recreation Ground lease.
The Clerk reported that she and the Chairman had visited the Solicitor who had advised against negotiating to reduce the rent still further as a new court date of 9th April had been received. It was felt that should the Pavilion fall vacant at any time in the future the Parish Council should have the opportunity of finding another tenant before the building reverted back to the College. If this should happen, and a change of use be applied for, the Parish Council would wish to ensure that anyone occupying the building would need to be CRB checked and also to charge for the use of the car parking spaces on the land it owned. Mr Dixon had now asked that Mrs Green submit an annual statement of profitability which she had indicated that she was not willing to do. Members backed Mrs Green’s decision and stated that they did not wish to share in any profitability that her business might show in future years. Being mindful that the College would wish to arrange for the insurance of the Pavilion, the costs of which would need to be passed on to Mrs Green, Members decided to ask for an indication as to likely cost before agreeing to a rental figure for the Kindergarten for the sub-lease as they did not wish to place unnecessary strain on her business.
Community Event 2013.
The Clerk reported that the Parish Council had been asked to organise a Community Event within the village during the summer on behalf of the Borough Council as part of the Olympic Legacy. There would be a budget of £5000 and all the necessary paperwork would need to be completed. The event would need to be free of charge and not clash with any other celebrations elsewhere within the Borough. As the Proms Concert was booked for 12/7 Members agreed that they would like this additional event to be held as near to the date of the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen’s Coronation in early June as possible. Initial ideas included some sort of musical event on the Recreation Ground with a firework finale. The Clerk agreed to liaise with Cllr. Pearton to formulate ideas for the completion of the necessary application form by 8/3 and report back at the next Meeting.
Annual Parish Newsletter and Annual Parish Assembly 2013.
The Clerk reported that three quotations had been received for the printing of the Annual Newsletter (Business Print Services £994, PDS-Hamiltons Ltd £1240.20 and Willow Print £990– all zero rated for VAT) Members awarded the contract to Willow Print who had offered the cheapest price. The newsletters would be delivered by the Scouts on 22/3. The copy material had been edited and the draft newsletter was currently awaited.
The speaker for the Annual Parish Assembly would be Jeremy Clarke who would talk about Charles Dickens’ associations with North Kent. James Pearson would present an agenda item on the Future Library Services project with regard to Higham Library and it was hoped that those present would share their ideas with him during the interval. Kate’s Classic Catering at the Village Oven Bake had agreed to provide the buffet at last year’s price of £275 which was unanimously accepted by Members.
To again discuss the proposed safety improvements to the centre of the village.
Cllr. James reported that it was understood that the funding for the proposed safety improvements to the centre of the village (excluding the crossing point to the Post Office) had been ring fenced and the work had now been placed with the contractor. As Cllr. Ashby had highlighted the need for additional crossing points within the village it was agreed that a coloured flyer would be inserted inside the newsletter asking Parishioners to contact the Clerk if they had need of an additional dropped kerb and these additional locations would be discussed with Kent Highways. A reminder not to park over existing crossing points within the village would also be placed in the newsletter.
Highway Priorities for 2013/2014.
Following discussion, the following list of Highway Priorities for 2013/2014 was agreed:-
1. Provision of crossing point from Gardeners Arms PH to Post Office.
2. Installation of second passing place to School Lane close to the primary school.
3. Improvements to traffic calming measures within the village.
4. Improved parking facilities for residents at top of Villa Road to improve traffic flow at the junction
5. Additional double yellow lining to the Villa Road area.
Cllr. Sweetland reported that there would be a 0% increase in the KCC budget for the third year running. Kent Highway Services now used Enterprise as its contractor. A new scheme whereby payment was linked to performance had meant that part of the profit could be withheld if works were not completed satisfactorily and this had led to better work at a cheaper price. The budget for gritting the roads was £3.2 million and the 60 gritter lorries covering the County were backed up by 160 local farmers with snow plough attachments for their tractors who were paid a day rate. Bus travel had doubled over the last 10 years with concessionary bus passes for the elderly continuing to be popular and 27,300 freedom passes costing £100 being issued to children. The AA had recently complimented KCC on the excellent job it was carrying out with its road resurfacing works which had seen 4 years budget costs being spent in only 3 years. So far 670 roads had been resurfaced in the County. Consultations had taken place with the Police and the Leader of Gravesham Council for some street lighting within Gravesham to be turned off from midnight to 05:00 hours which would help contribute to savings of just under £1 million per annum countywide. Cllr. Sweetland revealed that the Community Payback scheme would like to get more involved in work within the rural areas.
The Chairman highlighted the large amount of rubbish strewn along the banks of the Wainscott By Pass.
It was agreed that Alan Casson would be invited to attend a future Parish Council Meeting.
As Cllr. Craske was unable to attend the Meeting the Clerk reported that 86 separate objections to the planning proposal for Chequers Street (Cascades) had been received by the Borough Council and the DCPS had objected strongly. It was expected that Council Tax would rise by 1.9% within the Borough.
Cllr. Ashby reported street lights not lit at the junction of School Lane and Taylors Lane opposite the parade of shops. He agreed to contact Gads Hill regarding current traffic problems at the school.
Cllr. Sutherland reported street lights lit all day opposite the junction of Hermitage Road with St. John’s Road and by the drive to the Vicarage.
Cllr. Carroll reported that the dog bin overhanging a nearby garden had now been placed on a post.
Cllr. Grey reported that tyres had been dumped in Canal Road. He requested that a “dog bone” be painted on the road by the crossing point at Jupp Court to deter inconsiderate parking. Cllr. Ashby suggested that he take a photograph of any vehicles parked over the crossing point and send them to PCSO Meader for him to speak to the owners concerned. Problem parking to the verges by Mountbatten Avenue and opposite the Memorial Hall continued.
BREAK FOR REFRESHMENTS
Plans were available for the following planning applications which had been received and reviewed by the Planning Committee:-
Appln. no. 20130034 Bramble Cottage, 63, Villa Road.
Erection of a conservatory at the rear.
Appln. no. 20130090 51, Forge Lane.
Application for Lawful Development Certificate for the proposed construction of a dormer extension in rear roof slope and conversion of roof space into a bedroom and bathroom/wc.
Cllr. Sutherland reported that Members of the Local Area Committee had expressed concern regarding a perceived reduction in policing levels in the Gravesham Rural Parishes with only one PC. now covering an area from Vigo to Higham.
c. Memorial Hall.
Cllr. Sutherland reported that CCTV cameras were to be installed to the Main Hall and, thanks to a donation of £500 from a local resident, the outside of the building would also be covered.
j. Higham Youth Club.
This item had been covered earlier in the Meeting.
m. Higham Neighbourhood Forum (formerly PACT)
Peter Leakey reported that the next Meeting would be held in Higham Library on 5/3.
n. Kent Community Warden.
Steve Gray reported that 3 counts of flytipping had been collected by the Borough Council. A litter pick for Old Watling Street was still outstanding at the present time. The first Community Surgery/Afternoon Tea of 2013 had been held at the new venue of Higham Library at the end of January but numbers had been disappointing. The next Surgery would take place on 28/2. A dogging sign had been placed over the no through
road sign at the end of the slip road close to the roundabout.
o. Kent Police.
The Chairman reported that PCSOs Rob Meader and Pete Hyland would shortly be leaving the village to become Police Constables with Kent Police. Their replacement would be PCSO Claire Croucher.
The Clerk asked for approval for the items shown below, this being proposed by Cllr. Oakeshott, seconded by Cllr. Carroll and agreed by all Members.
Clerk (12 bags of rock salt) 101.88
Action with Communities in Rural Kent (2013 subscription) 35.00
Following earlier discussion at the Budget and Finance Committee Meeting on 14th January 2013, the following resolution was agreed unanimously by all Members and recorded in the Minutes:-
Mrs Linda Carnall, current Clerk to the Parish Council, will be allowed to join the Local Government Pension Scheme as from 1st April 2013. Future Higham Parish Council Clerks will be considered for the scheme following the necessary qualifying period (currently five years). It is confirmed that the contribution rate calculated by the LGPS actuaries is agreeable and it is acknowledged that the employer contribution rate may change following a triennial valuation of the LGPS (next valuation 2013).
The correspondence and email 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. It was agreed that Cllrs. James, Pearton, Grey, Sutherland and the Clerk would visit the Kent Highways depot at Aylesford on 8/3 as arranged by Cllr. Sweetland.
To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.
This was given as being Monday, 8th April 2013.
Any Other Business.
None was brought to the notice of the Meeting.
There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 10.07 p.m.
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