Higham Parish Council
Minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly, April 2014
[ DRAFT -- To be confirmed at the next Meeting ]
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Minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Thursday, 10th April 2014 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, A.Mendzil, P. Oakeshott, L. Pearton (also Borough),
B.Sutherland and S. Wright.
In attendance: 50 Parishioners
Kent Community Warden Steve Gray.
Liz Jeffery – Village Correspondent and Parish Press Officer.
Apologies for absence: Received from County Councillor Bryan Sweetland.
The Meeting was opened by the Chairman who warmly welcomed all those present and thanked them for attending.
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, 11th April 2013, were confirmed and signed.
Matters arising from the Minutes.
The Clerk reported that:-
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 2014” 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. 12)
b. Planning (P. 10)
c. Recreation Ground (P. 10)
The draft simplified statement of accounts for 2013/2014 (P.6) was agreed by all those present, this being proposed by Cllr. Oakeshott, and seconded by Cllr.James. Those present noted that the balance to be carried forward into the new financial year was £26,148.38 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. Sweetland had submitted a written report which had been provided for all Parishioners
Report from District Council Representatives.
Cllr. Harold Craske reported that to commemorate the Centenary of the beginning of World War One and the 75th anniversary of the beginning of World War Two a series of Memorial Services would be held at all of the 280 Commonwealth War Graves within Gravesham in October this year. It was hoped to lay a cross and a poppy on each grave and some were contained within St. Marys churchyard. Both he and Cllr. Pearton now had a new allocation of grant money to give to village organizations and Cllr. Sweetland also had grant money available through the Rural Forum. Cllr. Craske appealed for more volunteers for the Speedwatch scheme which operated within the village.
Cllr. Pearton highlighted the number of vehicles destroying the verges in the village by parking on them and complaints received regarding large amounts of litter to the Wainscott By Pass particularly on the slip roads within the village.
Report from the Governors of Higham Primary School (P.26)
David Mead highlighted the number of parents who parked stupidly outside the school and expressed concern that the walking bus no longer operated. Cllr. James reported that it had not been able to keep this facility going due to the lack of volunteers and observed that on the occasions that the Police monitored the parking outside the school there were no problems.
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 and Barbara West and her team of Cooks, Hostesses and Drivers who kept the Age Concern Luncheon Club going.
To receive an update on the renewal of the Recreation Ground lease.
The Chairman reported that this had been a protracted and challenging procedure because it had involved the production of three separate “leases” – a Head Lease, an Underlease and a Licence to Underlet. Draft copies of all of these had now been finally received and were being checked through ready for signing once they were acceptable to all parties concerned.
To consider any other matters raised by Parishioners.
David Mead highlighted the large number of overgrown allotments at the present time and asked if there was still a waiting list for vacant plots. Cllr. Howard reported that prospective allotment tenants were put off by the state of the vacant plots, some of which had trees growing on them and even with the incentive of no rent being payable for the first year some were unwilling to take them on. Some existing tenants just made sure that they paid their rent and did not attempt to cultivate the plot. Anne Waugh felt that existing tenants should be given three months to get their plots in good order and then be given notice if no improvement was forthcoming. Cllr. Howard planned to speak to the Alloment Association at Meopham which he believed issued a formal “weed letter” to repeat offenders. Mr Mead also asked if it was known when a decision would be reached regarding the route for the Lower Thames Crossing. Cllr. Craske reported that it was widely expected to be in 2015 following the General Election and the removal of the toll booths at the Dartford Crossing which would commence before the end of this year.
Peter Allinson enquired if the Parish Council was aware of any attempt to breach the Green Belt around the village. Cllr. Craske reported that the Local Development Framework had been rejected and at the present time an inspector was going through the documentation for the new Development Framework. A company, which had purchased land at the end of Walmers Avenue, had submitted an expression of interest at this stage in building on the site although it was not a planning application. Only part of the site was in the Parish of Higham and the rest was in Shorne.
Clive Stanley enquired if the publication “Your Borough” was still sent by GBC to Parishioners. Cllr. Craske confirmed that it was now posted out in white envelopes.
Concern was also expressed by Parishioners regarding the implementation of a new waste collection scheme within the village when the existing scheme worked so well. Cllr. Craske confirmed that final arrangements were still being made before the scheme was implemented.
Any Other Business.
Steve Gray reminded Parishioners of his monthly surgery which was held in Higham Library during the afternoon of the last Thursday of the month. He also appealed for volunteers for the Speedwatch Team run by the Higham Neighbourhood Forum.
Cllr. Grey highlighted recent problems of large numbers of Skip Hire lorries travelling through the village and confirmed that these were being monitored.
The Chairman welcomed Christoph Bull, Chalk Parish Historian, who gave a talk entitled “Our Thames: from Dartford to Grain”
To note the date of the next Annual Parish Assembly.
This was given as being Thursday, 9th April 2015 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 10.15 p.m.
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