Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the July 2013 Parish Council Meeting
[Draft Minutes - to be confirmed at next Meeting]

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Minutes of the re-arranged Parish Council Meeting held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Monday, 15th  July 2013 at 7.30 p.m.

 

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

                                               Kent County Councillor: Cllr. B. Sweetland

                                               Borough Councillor: Cllr. H. Craske.

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

In attendance:                          3 Parishioners

                                               PC Jo Mallett

                                               Liz Jeffery – Parish Council Press Officer                                                                                           

Apologies for absence:             Received from Cllrs. Mendzil and Sutherland.  

                                               Kent Community Warden Steve Gray

                                               PCSO Claire Croucher

                                                                                                                                            

The Chairman accepted apologies for absence.

There were no alterations to the Register of Members Interests.

The Clerk highlighted the current Recreation Ground Playground Inspection report which highlighted damage to the old safety surfacing under the slide unit. As Cllr. Sutherland did not attend the Parish Council Meeting the Clerk was asked to contact GBC to ask for advice as to whether this surfacing could be repaired and if so whether the Borough Council could carry out the work on our behalf.

 

The Minutes of the Annual Parish Council Meeting, followed by a Parish Council Meeting, held on Monday, 13th May 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. 1092. Matters Arising. The Brambles.  The clearance work was now complete.

b.  P. 1092. Matters Arising.  Gads Hill. Crutches Lane would be closed on 16/8 for one day for resurfacing work and pothole repairs to be carried out. Following the completion of this work the double yellow lines would be installed.

c.  P. 1092. Matters Arising. Gads Hill – tour of new school building. The majority of Councillors had been able to attend the recent Open Day on 29/6.

d.  P. 1095. Correspondence. Public Toilets – Memorial Hall car park. The Borough Council had confirmed that although it had built the public toilet building it did not own it. A list of expenditure for the past year provided by the Borough Council had revealed an annual national non-domestic rate of £753.75. Following discussion the Clerk was asked to check with our solicitor regarding ownership of the building. Members also discussed the possibility of demolishing the building or letting it out to a third party to cover the cost of the rates if it was discovered that the liability rested with the Parish Council.

e.  P. 1095. Correspondence. Alan Casson now had the work to relocate the Dickens sign in hand.    

f.   Web site report. For the last 12 month rolling period alone there had been a total of 43,746 hits to the website with 4933 visitors in June alone. The Clerk and Clive Stanley would meet during the Summer to update the content of the website.

 

Parishioners Matters.

Jennifer Stopher, of Martins Close, alerted Members to large numbers of earth moving lorries which were currently using the Lower Rochester Road and which passed only inches away from pedestrians. She had been unable to note the name of the company concerned. PC Mallett noted down the relevant details and agreed to find out how many vehicles would constitute a convoy. Cllr Grey reported that RS Skips/Medway Skips had also been taking loads of spoil through the village. The Clerk was asked to investigate where they were based.

 

2013 Community Events

The Clerk reported that approximately 500 people had enjoyed the “In The Mood Tonight” evening which had been funded by the Borough Council on behalf of the Community. Although the evening had been unseasonably cold large numbers had taken to the dance floor including the Deputy Mayor and Mayoress of Gravesham. A spectacular musical firework display had brought the evening to a close.

It was felt that numbers had been down a little on previous years for the annual Friday Night at the Proms event but around 300 people had enjoyed the music played by the Medway Band particularly as this year a local sound engineer had provided amplifiers so that everyone was able to hear the music. In spite of the increase in overheads all costs had been met from ticket monies and in addition a collection for the Armed Services Charities had raised over £170.  Comments had been received from those attending that they felt that a later start and later finish for the concert might be better in future years.

The Clerk expressed concern regarding the numbers of Parish Council Members who had been unable to offer any sort of help in running these two events and warned that non- compliance with the prepared Operational Briefs might mean that a licence would not be granted in future years.

  

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

The Clerk reported that she had notified Mr Franklin to proceed with the preparation of all the paperwork but as Mr Dixon was now on holiday an application would need to be made to extend the Court date as it was unlikely that matters would be finalised before 19/8.   Following discussion it was agreed that Mrs Green would pay a £2000 rent  per annum and also insure the contents of the building as at present. The Parish Council would pay £1000 per annum towards the rent and continue to insure the building as at present. The Clerk was asked to check with the solicitor regarding the amount of backdated rent that was due to be paid.

 

Lower Thames Crossing Public Consultation.

The Clerk reported that the public consultation period for the Lower Thames Crossing was due to close the following day. It was hoped that large numbers of Parishioners would have written to object to Option C (east of Gravesend). A letter from Harold Craske attaching a pro forma letter had been sent to every household within the village and reminders of the closing date for objections had been given at the recent Community Events and by large banners displayed within the village. The Rural Forum meeting at Thamesview School had been well attended at the beginning of July and Radio Kent had held a debate at the Hilton Hotel, Dartford the previous week which had meant that the proposed date for the Public Meeting to be held within the village had had to be cancelled. It was widely expected that the Government would announce the  preferred route in the Autumn.

  

To finalise arrangements for the 2013 Higham Gardens for Pleasure Competition.

The Chairman reminded Members to produce their short list of gardens for judging by Morton Grey by the end of  July.

 

Councillors’ Matters.

County.

Cllr. Sweetland confirmed that both Kent County Council and Essex County Council had supported Option C in the Lower Thames Crossing Consultation.  It was understood that Adam Holloway was planning to speak to the Secretary of State for Transport.

  

Borough.

Cllr. Craske reported that, due to a shortage of burial plots in the Gravesend area, a new Memorial Park was to be built on Green Belt land in Shorne close to Chalk Church. Local clergy had been consulted and were in agreement. Cllr. Craske confirmed that he had so far awarded two grants from his Borough Councillor allowance. One was to the Memorial Hall for additional CCTV facilities  and the other to Peter Leakey for Road Safety posters. Liz Jeffery indicated that HiARA would be making an application and it was believed that Merston Court would also submit one. Two Borough Councillor surgeries  had been held at Higham Library so far and had revealed problems with the distribution of the black rubbish sacks within the village.      

 

Parish.

Cllr. James reported reduced flytipping to Crutches Lane since the installation of the new signs on the underbridge.

Cllr. Ashby suggested that bollards could be placed to the footpath to the top of Villa Road to stop cars driving down the road with one wheel on the pavement. The  grass verge opposite The Orchards still required reinstatement following the building works and Cllr. Craske agreed to check the planning consent.

Cllr. Howard reported that a front hedge needed to be cut back to a property opposite the Chapel as the footway was so reduced that pedestrians had to walk in the road.

Cllr. Pearton reported that vegetation was growing through the wire netting to the railway on Chalk Road.

     

BREAK FOR REFRESHMENTS

 

Reports.

 

a.    Planning.

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

 

Appln. no. 20130014   3, Telegraph Hill.

Construction of side extension to roof;  new pitched roof over existing flat roof on rear extension and conversion of garage to bedroom, study and bathroom/wc.

Appln.  no. 20130398   21, Telegraph Hill.

Demolition of existing bungalow and erection of a replacement three bedroom bungalow with partially underbuilt basement and a detached double garage with access driveway.

Appln. no. 20130424   The Lodge, Telegraph Hill.

Erection of side extension and construction of new enlarged roof over dwelling with dormer windows in front and rear roof slopes and conversion of roof space into three bedrooms and bathroom/wc.

Appln. no. 20130460   1, The Paddock, Gravesend Road.

Erection of front and side boundary wall with pedestrian gate and vehicular entrance gates varying from 1m – 2.41m in height.

Appln. no. 20130409   8, Colewood Drive.

Erection of part two storey and part single storey rear extension to form garden room, enlarged kitchen and sitting room at ground floor level with enlarged bedroom, bedroom and enlarged bathroom/wc at first floor level.

Appln. no. 20130462   High View, Chalk Road.

Erection of single storey side extension to form a utility room.

Appln. no. 20130461   4, Lake Drive.

Erection of first floor side extension to form a bedroom, enlarged bedroom and ensuite bathroom/wc.

Appln. no. 20130505   Dingley Dell, Gravesend Road.

Conversion of dwelling into a guest house/bed and breakfast accommodation including conversion of swimming pool building into three letting rooms, to form a total of 8 letting rooms and formation of a vehicular access onto Crutches Lane.

       

h.     Governors of Higham School.

        Cllr. James reported an increase to 77% of lesson observations being judged as good or better with some 10% now being judged as being outstanding. There had also been an increase in the number of pupils passing their 11+ exams to 40% this year and the number of children making at least two levels of progress from KS1 to KS2 had risen to 96% in English and 100% in Mathematics.

 

j.      Higham Youth Club.

        Cllr. Carroll reported that several youngsters had recently joined the Youth Club having moved to the village. Attendance on a Wednesday evening was now regularly in the 70’s.

        The Clerk reported that the Parish Council Formal Complaints Committee had met on 11/6 to consider a formal complaint made by a youngster who had been excluded from Higham Youth Club. Having considered all matters in detail, both written and oral, the Committee had reached the decision that the complaint should not be upheld.

 

k.     Chalk Liaison Group.

        Cllr. Oakeshott reported that a leaflet from a a community group called PACE (Parishes Against Crossing Eyesore) had been posted through her door, but had not been delivered elsewhere in the village.

 

l.      Rural Housing.

        Cllr. Grey reported that rural nomination criteria had been overlooked as a vacant property at Isis Cottages had been allocated to a person with under 10 years residency within the village. He was hoping to arrange a Meeting with the Borough Council to discuss the matter.

 

m.    Higham Neighbourhood Forum.

         Peter Leakey reported that the next Meeting would be held on 3/9.

 

n.     Kent Community Warden.

        As Community Warden Steve Gray was on sick leave at present, and did not attend the Meeting,  Members wished him a speedy recovery.

    

Finance.

The Clerk presented the quarterly financial statement for the period 1/4/13 to 30/6/13. She asked for approval for the items shown below, this being proposed by Cllr.James, seconded by Cllr. Wright and agreed by all Members.

     

GBC (TENs X 3)                                                                                                                 63.00

GBC (TENs X 2)                                                                                                                 42.00

Clerks salary (May)                                                                                                            899.95

Clerks salary (June)                                                                                                            899.95

KCC (LGPS May)                                                                                                              288.50

KCC (LGPS June)                                                                                                             288.50

HMRC (PAYE/NI May)                                                                                                    170.99

HMRC (PAYE/NI June)                                                                                                    170.99

Clerk (use of room as office 1/4/13 to 30/6/13)                                                                 227.50

Southern Water (allotments)                                                                                                56.32

GBC (printing of LTC leaflets)                                                                                         614.40

Clerk (In The Mood Tonight payments)                                                                           550.00

Christopher Hook (In The Mood Tonight tickets)                                                            125.00

Beverley Prankard( Peninsula Big Band balance)                                                            450.00

Phoenix Fireworks Ltd ( balance for firework display)                                                  2500.00

Higham Marquees Ltd. (marquee hire)                                                                           1396.50

Clerk (garden gift tokens – S137/139)                                                                                 80.00

Clive Stanley (webmaster services 1/4/13 to 29/6/13)                                                      126.00

The Medway Band (Friday Night at the Proms 2013)                                                      400.00           

M.J.Read & Co, (2013 audit preparation, internal audit and RTI))                                  672.00

Victory Design Ltd. (LTC banners)                                                                                  239.50

Internet Stationers Ltd. (expenses books and certificates)                                                  85.04

Safe Options Ltd. (expanding barriers X 4)                                                                      360.00

Peninsula Times Ltd. (delivery of LTC leaflets)                                                                 41.25

Clive Sound (sound system for Proms event)                                                                   235.00

Zurich Insurance plc (renewal premium for Pavilion)                                                    1329.96

BT Payment Services Ltd (broadband)                                                                             130.80

 

The following proposal was recorded in the Minutes:-

“This Council in accordance with its powers under Sections 137 and 139 of the Local Government Act 1972, should incur an expenditure of £80 for garden gift tokens, which is in the opinion of the Council in the interests of the area or its inhabitants”

 

To note the approval of the accounts and the Annual Return for Local Councils for the Year Ended 31st March 2013.

Copies of both the Annual Return for Local Councils in England and Wales, and accounts for the financial year ended 31st March 2013, had been circulated to Members prior to an Extraordinary Meeting held on 17/6.  Both documents had been approved unanimously by all Members present. Members again noted the comments made by Nigel Wharton regarding the Council conducting a review once a year of the effectiveness of its system of internal control. It was agreed, that this should be considered  by the Budget and Finance Committee when it met in early November, and the findings should be ratified by the full Parish Council Meeting at the end of November.

 

Correspondence.

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 reported the cancellation of the recently extended 174/5 bus service due to lack of use.

2.  Members noted that a recent private booking of the Higham Primary School hall had caused traffic chaos to School Lane with a large number of parked cars obstructing the traffic flow and causing complaints from Parishioners.

 

To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.

This was given as being Monday, 9th September  2013  at 7.30 p.m.

 

Any Other Business.

Cllr. Carroll reported a missing fire hydrant sign to School Lane.

Cllr. Howard reported a large number of bottles and cans dumped by the seat to the top of School Lane.

 

There being no other business, the Meeting finally closed at 10.05 p.m.

     

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