Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the November 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, 26th November 2012 at 7.30 p.m.

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

                                               Representing Kent County Council: Cllr. B. Sweetland.

                                               Borough Councillor: Cllr. H. Craske.

                                               Councillors: G. Ashby A. Carroll, J.Grey, A.Howard,

                                               M. James, P. Oakeshott , L.Pearton (also Borough)

                                               B. Sutherland,  and  S.Wright.

In attendance:                          Cllr. Lyn Milner (Mayor of Gravesham)                                                 

                                               Kent Community Warden Steve Gray.

                                               Liz Jeffery – Village Correspondent and Press Officer.

                                               7 Parishioners

Apologies for absence:             Received from Cllr. Mendzil.

                                               PCSO Rob Meader.

                                               Clive Stanley. 


The Chairman welcomed the Mayor of Gravesham to the Christmas Meeting of the Parish Council.


Before the commencement of the proceedings a moment was given as a mark of respect for Kent County Councillor Mike Snelling who had unexpectedly died since the last Meeting.


The Chairman accepted apologies for absence.

There were no alterations to the Register of Members Interests.

Cllr. Sutherland had checked the recent inspection report prepared for the Recreation Ground by the Borough Council and it was agreed to arrange for the removal of the two vandalised flat swing seats both of which had metal exposed where the rubber had been removed.


The Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting, held on Monday, 8th October 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.1067. Matters Arising. The Chequers. Details of the original planning permission had

       been forwarded to Sharon Donald who had confirmed that Red Admiral Homes had set

       up a management company to oversee the amenity land and would report back to the

       Borough Council by the end of November.

b.    P. 1069. Parish. Three Parish Councillors attended the recent Radio Kent debate which

       dealt with the topic of a possible new airport being built in the Thames Estuary.

c.    P. 1069. Parish. Snow clearance team. Laminated posters had now been placed around

       the village appealing for volunteers to join the team.

d.    P. 1069. Parish. Street light to Canal Road. Penny Roper, the Street Lighting Engineer,

       had confirmed that the Parish Council would have to fund any new street lighting at this

       location. It was agreed not to proceed further at the present time.

e.    Web site report. For the last 12 month rolling period alone there had been a total of 

       41,762 hits to the website with 4503 visitors in October alone.


Cllr. James reported that the alterations to the proposed safety improvements to the centre of the village had been notified to Kent Highways (P. 1067 of the minutes refers) and a response was awaited. He had been assured that these funds would be ring fenced. He confirmed that salt bin levels to his area were good (P. 1069 refers). Cllr. James had responded on behalf of the Parish Council to the KCC Budget Consultation (P. 1070 refers). He had ascertained that the best position for the fly tipping signs to be mounted would be on the underbridge to Crutches Lane but this would require permission from Kent Highways (P. 1070 refers).

Cllr. Craske confirmed that the Enforcement Officer was now monitoring the site at Hermitage Road (P. 1068 refers).

Parishioners’ Matters.

Katie Roberts, of Hermitage Road, thanked Cllr. Craske for his update on the Hermitage Road site and asked to be kept informed of any progress. In answer to a question regarding the possible replacement of front garden fencing at Dorritt Cottages by a friend she was reminded by Cllr. Craske that this formed part of the Conservation Area and advised to contact the Borough Council regarding permission.

Alan Taylor, of Martins Close, reported that although several potholes had been repaired to the bridge in Chequers Street, the largest was still outstanding. 


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

The Clerk reported that it was the intention of the Parish Council to negotiate for just a lease for the Recreation Ground and Sports Area and let Suzanne Green negotiate for a separate lease for the Pavilion. She had therefore submitted her accounts to the College for consideration. It was hoped that this would prove to the College that the current rental figure sought was out of the question. The Agent, Mr Dixon, had been advised that all parties wished to settle negotiations as soon as possible to avoid escalating costs and legal fees which had already exceeded £2000. To safeguard the position of the Parish Council our solicitor had lodged papers with the Court with an initial direction hearing scheduled for 2/1/13.


To receive a report on the Future Library Service Meeting held on 13th November 2012.

The Clerk reported that further discussion had taken place regarding the feasibility of opening a coffee shop within the Library and the sort of equipment that might be needed. Concern continued to be voiced regarding the lack of a disabled toilet within the building. KCC is keen to encourage village and other groups to rent out the library space on a regular basis to help offset the present premises costs but do not wish to poach custom from elsewhere in the village. A Meeting had been arranged in Higham Library on 30/1/13 at 19.00 hours when it is hoped that representatives of community and local groups and parishioners will come forward with ideas for the use of their library. Details of this meeting will be sent with the requests for copy material for the 2013 Newsletter early in the new year. It was agreed that the Clerk would ask Christoph Bull if he and James Pearson would present an agenda item on Future Library Services at the 2013 Annual Parish Assembly and then for him to give the talk for the second part of the evening.


To request copy material for the 2013 Annual Newsletter.

The Clerk reminded Members to produce copy material for the 2013 newsletter in time for it to be brought to the next Meeting.


Councillors’ Matters.


On behalf of Kent County Council Cllr. Bryan Sweetland reported on the latest proposal for an estuary airport off the coast at Whitstable which was being opposed by the County Council. He reported that a total of 30% less was now being spent on contractors fees following the introduction of the withholding of payment if the results were not satisfactory. As part of this new initiative the companies concerned also had to employ young apprentices. Due to an increase in the numbers of people visiting household waste tips, and also an increase in the numbers of complaints, the restrictions had now been relaxed to allow drivers of sign written vehicles, such as driving schools and cabs, to use the facilities. There had been a drop of 65% in the incidences of fly tipping over the last 7 years. The contract for the provision of youth services in Gravesham had been awarded to the Gr@nd.


Cllr. Craske confirmed that the LDF document was now ready to go to the Inspector.

Cllr. Pearton reported that a meeting would be held later in the week regarding the Theme Park initiative.



Cllr. James confirmed that the removal of the fish sale signs by the Borough Council had been successful.

Cllr. Ashby reported that he was to meet Tony Atherton to walk around the village to inspect areas of concern reported to him such as road surfacing to Villa Road and Crutches Lane and the yellow lining to the A226 and dog bone lining to ramps. He also advised Members that Kent Highways had issued an enforcement letter regarding the encroachment issue in Lower Higham.

Cllr. Grey highlighted a problem regarding vehicles parking to the grass verge behind his property. Cllr. Craske suggested that he should speak to the Borough Council which had been successful in obtaining  prohibition orders elsewhere.

Cllr. Sutherland again expressed concern regarding the lack of progress regarding the drainage/flooding problems being experienced by Mr Smith of Walmers Avenue. Cllr. Sweetland offered his help and asked to be kept advised of the situation.

Cllr. Howard reported that the pathway area to Jubilee Corner was overgrown and needed cutting back.  




a.    Planning.

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


Appln. no. 20120821   17, Colewood Drive.

Demolition of existing garage and erection of part two storey and part single storey side, front and rear extension to form covered swimming pool, changing room, pump/equipment room and garage at ground floor level with bedroom, ensuite bathroom/wc and walk in wardrobe at first floor level and construction of a basement to provide gym and pump/equipment room.

Appln. no. 20120866   Upshire House, 1, Hermitage Road.

Erection of part three storey and part two storey rear extension to form sun room and enlarged kitchen at lower ground floor level, bedroom and enlarged bathroom at ground floor level and bedroom at first floor level.

Appln. no. 20120910   51, Forge Lane.

Erection of single storey rear extension to form kitchen/dining room, lounge and utility room; construction of dormer window in front roof slope and conversion of roof space into a bedroom and bathroom/wc.

Appln. no. 20120923   3, Carton Road.

Application for approval of the reserved matters attached to outline planning permission reference number 20090789 for erection of a detached bungalow and garage relating to the access, appearance, landscaping, layout and scale.


h.     Governors of Higham School.

        Cllr. James reported that recent league tables released for the KS2 SATs had shown the school to be placed 5th overall from 25 Primary schools.


i.      Merston Court.

        The Chairman reported there was still a desperate need for drivers, cooks and hostesses for the luncheon club.  She thanked Cllr. Sweetland for arranging for a new cooker to be provided.


j.      Higham Youth Club.

        Jo Raff reported that attendance at the club on a Wednesday evening was often in excess of 70. Computerised entrance cards had now been introduced. The recent Residential Trip to East Hailsham had been very successful. Work towards the accreditation status was now nearly complete and an assessment date was awaited. If this was achieved the club would become the first in Gravesham to acquire this status. Sadly the application for lottery grant aid to set up the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme had not been successful.  


m.   Higham Neighbourhood Forum (formerly PACT)

        Peter Leakey reported that the next Meeting would be held on 4/2. The request for delivery bays to the centre of the village had been turned down by Kent County Council due to the good accident record.


n.     Kent Community Warden.

        Steve Gray reported that two counts of fly tipping had been collected. Following his last Community Surgery and Afternoon Tea in the Church Hall on 29/11 the venue would change to Higham Library in the new year in the hope that more residents would attend. He had given a presentation on Stranger Danger to Higham Beavers.


p.     Gads Hill School Development Committee.

        Cllr. Sutherland reported that he had received complaints that contractors cars were no longer allowed to park on the Gads Hill School school site. The Clerk confirmed that she had received an email to this effect and agreed  to forward this to Cllr. Ashby.



The Clerk asked for approval for the items shown below, this being proposed by Cllr. Oakeshott, seconded by Cllr. James and agreed by all Members.


B.T.Payment Services Ltd. (broadband)                                                                     123.57

Martin Tolhurst Partnership (legal costs so far)                                                          1701.00

Southern Sheds Ltd. (shed repair to house traffic management items)                           229.00

Reach Charity Ltd. (donation in memory of late Cllr. Mike Snelling)                              75.00      

Mrs J.M.Papadopulos (Chairman’s allowance)                                                            175.00

Higham with Merston PCC (church Christmas leaflet – S137/139)                               100.00   


Postponement of the Budget and Finance Committee Meeting.

The Clerk reported that a decision had been taken to postpone the Budget and Finance Meeting until early in the new year in the hope that there would be an agreement between all parties regarding the new rent for the Recreation Ground. In view of an increased quotation for over £2000 for the pole hung Christmas lighting in the village for the festive season  Members unanimously agreed to forego this for the current year. Cllr. Pearton again kindly agreed to distribute the Parish Council indoor Christmas lighting to shops and business within the Parish. It was agreed that Parishioners would be notified about the lack of outdoor Christmas lighting by articles placed in The Bridge and on the website.    



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.  It was agreed that Cllr. Ashby would liaise with Alan Casson regarding the repositioning of the Dickens sign.

2.  Members noted the start of the new lay-by works to School Lane on 10/12.


To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.

This was given as being Monday, 14th January 2013 at 7.30 p.m.


Any Other Business.

Cllr. Craske reported that the four new dog bins had now been installed to the village.

The Mayor thanked Members of the Parish Council for their invitation to the Meeting which she had found to be most informative. She also thanked Members for inviting her to the various Olympic events during the summer but apologised that whenever she visited it was always raining and this evening was no exception.


There being no other business the Chairman closed the Meeting at 8.50 p.m. and invited those present to her home for some seasonal refreshment.


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