Higham Parish Council
Minutes of the Ordinary Parish Council Meeting, March 2014
[ DRAFT -- To be confirmed at the next Meeting ]
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Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Monday, 3rd March 2014 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, A. Mendzil, P. Oakeshott, L. Pearton (also Borough), B.Sutherland and S.Wright.
In attendance: 6 Parishioners
Kent Community Warden Steve Gray.
Liz Jeffery – Village Correspondent and Press Officer.
Apologies for absence: Received from Cllr..James and PCSO Sharon Balman.
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. Cllr. Sutherland confirmed that he would replace the damaged springer horse, that had been removed, this week.
The Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting, held on Monday, 13th January 2014, were confirmed and signed.
Matters arising from the Minutes.
Including an update of actions from the last Minutes, the Clerk reported that:-
a. P.1115 Matters Arising. The makers of the programme “Cowboy Builders” had welcomed the residents of Copperfield House making contact with them. Filming for the next series, to be broadcast in 2015, would commence in the Autumn.
b. P.1116. Parish. An article regarding inconsiderate parking had been placed in the newsletter.
c. P. 1118.Gads Hill. A report of the recent Meeting with Gads Hill School had been provided by Cllr. James and circulated to all Members in advance of the Meeting. In his absence the Chairman thanked Cllr. James for providing these detailed notes. Cllr. Craske reported that items that needed to be referred to Kent Highways were in hand but he was mindful of the current severe weather problems and the strain that these were placing on the service.
d. P. 1118. Any Other Business. An article about dog fouling had also been placed in the newsletter.
e. Web site report. During the rolling 12 month period there had been a total of 48,901 hits to the Parish website with 4400 visitors in February alone.
Cllr. Craske reported that a verge survey of the village would be requested once the current severe weather was over (P. 1116 of the minutes refers).
Cllr. Grey reported that the large tree branch had now been dragged to the verge but was still awaiting collection (P. 1116 of the Minutes refers).
Peter Leakey, of Chilton Drive, drew attention to the verge from the Knowle to the Memorial Hall which had been churned up by parked vehicles following the recent wet weather. Although Kent Highways had declined to help at this time, Cllr. Sweetland agreed to look into the matter. Following the success of the logs placed to the grass verge outside Cobham Hall to deter parking, it was agreed to investigate doing the same in Higham.
Stephen Tomsett, of Copperfield House, reported that conditions within his apartment continued to worsen and that his Mother was now on medication due to the amount of mould in the property. Cllr. Craske agreed to take up this matter with the Environmental Health Department at the Borough Council.
To receive an update on the renewal of the Recreation Ground lease.
The Clerk reported that since that last Meeting a large amount of draft documentation had been sent to the Parish Council for approval. The Chairman had enlisted the help of David Mead, who had been a Parish Councillor when the original lease had been signed 28 years ago, to help her and the Clerk check this through prior to meeting with the solicitor to discuss it in more detail last week. The documents were contentious and placed a lot of liability on both the Parish Council and Suzanne Green. The main areas of concern were as follows:-
1. As the College had been so slow with the negotiations the documents had still not been signed and the first rent review was due next October. Our solicitor would write to the College to see if they would be willing to negotiate another start date for the new lease which would be a more reasonable date as the old rent had continued to be paid.
2. Unlike the Parish Council, Suzanne Green had no security of tenure under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 after the first three year period.
3. The method for deciding if a profit had been made was exceedingly controversial.
4. Clauses had been inserted in the new lease banning the consumption of alcohol and the use of amplified sound/music on the Recreation Ground which was not acceptable.
It was not known at this stage if this document would be acceptable to Mrs Green.
Annual Parish Newsletter and Annual Parish Assembly 2014.
The Clerk reported that although the decision regarding the printers for this year’s newsletter was awaited it was now certain that printing costs would not be any more than last year. The newsletters would be delivered by the Scouts on 4/4. The copy material was currently in the process of being edited but had been very slow in being sent in this year. It was agreed that a final cut off date for the receipt of copy material of mid-February would be imposed in 2015. The speaker for the Annual Parish Assembly would be Christoph Bull who would talk about “Our Thames: from Dartford to Grain” Kate’s Classic Catering at the Village Oven Bake had agreed to provide the buffet (catering for 40) for the price of £230 (which was the same price per head as last year) and this was unanimously accepted by Members.
To discuss the future of the Memorial Hall car park public conveniences.
The Clerk reported that Parishioners were to be asked for their views as to what the building could be used for, or if they felt it should be demolished, as part of her Clerk’s report in this year’s newsletter. It was noted that The Property Shop in Gravesend now appeared to have been able to let the toilets to the Echo Square roundabout.
Cllr. Sweetland reported that Council Tax was to be raised by 1.99%. Some street lighting in Gravesham was to be switched off from midnight to 5.00 a.m whilst some street lights to Shorne and Chalk had been turned off permanently. This would save an additional £1 million in costs. Adam Holloway had met with David Cameron to discuss the Lower Thames Crossing and to push for the decision regarding the route to be delayed until the tolls had been lifted.
Cllr. Craske reported that he would have a new Members Grant of £1500 available from the new financial year. The new Speedwatch equipment would be demonstrated at the forthcoming Rural Forum Meeting at Istead Rise on 20/3. Letters would shortly be sent out to all residents of the Borough outlining the new Waste and Recycling scheme which would be commencing in June. A 240 litre wheelie bin would be supplied for recycling and this would be collected fortnightly. Household rubbish would continue to be collected weekly in black sacks. A small food waste caddy to keep in your kitchen, and a larger one to be kept outside, would also be supplied, and this would be collected weekly. The Borough Council would raise Council Tax by 1.93% and the cost of enforcement legislation for non-payers was also set to rise. The Borough Council had received a speculative enquiry under the LDF for the consideration of 45 dwellings to be built on a piece of land west of Walmers Avenue.
Cllr. Pearton reported potholes to Church Street, Gore Green Road and on the railway bridge.
Cllr. Grey reported that Parishioners from elsewhere in the village had mistakenly been given stickers to park in the CPZ by the Borough Council. A wooden bollard needed resiting to School Lane and some skip lorries had been observed exceeding their authorised hours of operation.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported she had received a petition from 26 ladies who wanted to arrange for some transport to take them to the shops (in Gravesend and Strood) and back again. Steve Gray suggested approaching the Lions Club for the use of their minibus and agreed to speak to the wardens in Meopham.
Cllr.Mendzil reported that she had observed Gad’s parents performing dangerous U turns to the bottom of Telegraph Hill after they had dropped their children at school and Steve Gray agreed to look into this. As numbers of pupils at the school had increased many now had to cross the road from where they had been dropped off by their parents who did not wish to use the school car park and it was noted that the crossing patrol to help them cross the road outside the pub was no longer operational.
Cllr. Ashby reported a racing car to Villa Road which was not taxed. Peter Leakey agreed to supply the Clerk with the registration number of the vehicle concerned.
BREAK FOR REFRESHMENTS
Plans were available for the following planning applications which had been received and reviewed by the Planning Committee:-
Appln. no. 20140085 4, Jupp Court, School Lane.
Erection of detached outbuilding in rear garden for use as a dog grooming business.
Appln. no. 20140078 Buckland Farm, Chalk Road.
Reclad B1 units 3,4 and 9 to achieve EPC levels suitable for approved B1 uses and the replacement of existing steel framed building with a new steel framed building to achieve EPC levels suitable for approved B1 uses in units 1 and 2.
Appln. no. 20140130 20, Beech Grove.
Construction of a dormer extension in front and rear roof slopes and conversion of roof space into two bedrooms and ensuite shower room/wc.
c. Memorial Hall.
Cllr. Sutherland reported that the storage room floor had now been completed. The top wall of the Hall was starting to bow out and water was dripping. Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the Hall Committee was still looking for volunteers.
Cllr. Wright reported that most footpaths were now overgrown. As there was less money now available for clearance he recommended walkers taking secateurs with them.
i. Merston Court
The Chairman reported that there were currently vacancies for people to join the Luncheon Club. She had asked Age Concern regarding the bicycles to the garage.
j. Higham Youth Club.
Cllr. Sutherland reported that Joanne had now given up the Monday evening booking at the Memorial Hall as she hoped to run the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme on a Wednesday evening.
k. Chalk Liaison Group.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that Cllr. Les Hills had objected to the Local Plan.
m. Higham Neighbourhood Forum (formerly PACT)
Peter Leakey reported that the next Meeting would be held in Higham Library on 4/3. A special Speedwatch Meeting would be held on 10/3.
l. Rural Housing
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the new Rural Nomination criteria would be applied to properties currently empty in Mountbatten Avenue and Jupp Court.
n. Kent Community Warden.
Steve Gray reported that 6 counts of flytipping had been collected by the Borough Council. Litter picks for Old Watling Street and the garages in Villa Road had been requested. The Community Surgery held on 27/2 had been attended by 3 Parishioners. Earthing conductors had been removed from two telegraph poles in Villa Road by metal thieves and unlit street lights to Fairview Drive and Brookers Place had been reported to Kent Highways. Complaints had been received regarding cars parking close to the junction of Hollytree Drive with Gravesend Road, and cars for sale being parked outside the Sir John Falstaff PH on private land.
The Clerk asked for approval for the items shown below, this being proposed by Cllr.Oakeshott, seconded by Cllr. Pearton and agreed by all Members.
BT (broadband) 137.89
Nexus Data Services Ltd. (domain name/server hosting) 297.60
Youth Leader (salary 7/11/13 to 31/1/14) 646.80
Action with Communities in Rural Kent (2014 subscription) 35.00
Clerks salary (February net) 906.69
HMRC (PAYE/NI February) 175.76
KCC (LGPS February) 291.36
Admin Exps. (1/10/13 – 31/12/13) 911.06
CG Garden Services (tree surgery) 325.00
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 items:-
1. A letter from the residents of Hayes Close regarding the state of the pavement was to be referred to Tony Atherton
2. Jason Clout of Crutches Lane was to be thanked for clearing up behind Kent Highways when vegetation was trimmed back recently.
3. Members declined the invitation to join with the PTA for a Community Day in June.
To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.
This was given as being Monday, 7th April 2014.
Any Other Business.
None was brought to the notice of the Meeting.
There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 10.15 p.m.
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