Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the Ordinary Parish Council Meeting, October 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, 20th October 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  and   S.Wright.

 In attendance:                       Steve Gray – Kent Community Warden

                                               Liz Jeffery – Parish Council Press Officer                                

                                               7 Parishioners.                                                                                                      

Apologies for absence:          Received from Cllr. B. Sweetland (County Councillor),

                                               Cllr.B. Sutherland

                                               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 playground inspection report had revealed no additional problems. A vote of thanks was recorded in the Minutes to David Waghorn who had kindly repaired the roof of the bus shelter at no cost to the Parish.


The Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held on Monday, 15th September 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.1140. Parishioners Matters. Lower Rochester Road. A search of records had revealed that the ownership of the land was still with the original developer of the site and it would be a costly exercise to investigate further. As Mr Taylor had confirmed that the sight lines were still obscured Mr Atherton undertook to try and carry out the clearance work when he next had a tractor and flail in the area.

b.   P.1140. Parishioners Matters. The Big Community Switch Scheme. Unfortunately the closing date for applications to this scheme had been 13/10.

c.   P.1141. County. Visit to new waste recycling site. This had now been arranged for 7/11. Councillors were reminded to let Cllr. Sweetland know if they wished to attend.

d.    P. 1142. Borough. Stray Dogs. The information provided by Cllr. Craske had now been placed on the website.

e.   P.1142. Parish. Community Payback Scheme. Steve Gray reported that this group had confirmed that it was unable to remove the fly posters from the lamposts. Cllr. Oakeshott advised that Stuart Alford had offered to arrange for their removal.


Parishioners’ Matters.

David Mead of Taylors Lane enquired if any more had been heard regarding the choice of route for the new Lower Thames Crossing. It seemed that a decision would be delayed until after the General Election next May and to allow time to see what effect the lifting of the tolls on the crossing had when they were removed at the end of November. Mr Mead advised Members that a special service would be held at the Congregational Chapel on Remembrance Sunday.

Alan Taylor, of Martins Close, reported that large lorries had removed the filler from a pothole on the bridge. Cllr. Pearton felt this might be related to the missing lorry sign to Canal Road and Cllr. Craske confirmed that he had chased this matter with Cllr. Sweetland.  Cllr. James reminded him that the smaller lorry signs were to be relocated along the Lower Rochester Road. The Clerk confirmed that businesses at the Nuralite Site had been reminded again to use the designated lorry route out of the village earlier this year.


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

The Clerk reported that Savills had advised the College not to grant the Parish Council a lease of the Recreation Ground only. The Parish Council would therefore be granted one headlease for the Pavilion, multi-purpose games area and playing field, with the option of sub letting part. Meopham Leisure Association was planning to meet with the two village Headteachers and the Practice Manager at the surgery to discuss the type of leisure opportunities they felt were needed in the village before arranging a taster afternoon to demonstrate the sort of new activities they could offer in the future. The Parish Council would send a letter to every home in the village explaining in more detail about this new initiative.  Comments received from these events would be analysed and would form the basis of a Development Plan. MLA had agreed that details of its charity status could be given to the College at this stage. The Parish Council would need to decide if it was willing to overturn its decision taken at the Extraordinary Meeting in August in order to give MLA time to put its proposals forward. It was agreed that the Chairman, Clerk and David Mead would visit the solicitor to update him of recent developments and enquire if any break clauses could be inserted in the new lease which would allow the Parish Council the opportunity to walk away if ultimately  the other party dropped out. It was also suggested that MLA could be granted the headlease and sub let the playing field to HPC as another option.   


To consider the effectiveness of the current Higham Parish Council Planning Committee.

The Clerk had prepared a background document which had been sent to all Members outlining the current system. Cllr. Ashby stated that he wished the workings of the planning committee to be seen to be clear and transparent and above criticism by Parishioners. Following discussion it was felt that the present system worked well bearing in mind the government guidelines and time restraints placed on the Planning Committee. It was noted that the Parish Council had a good reputation with the Borough Council as being the only rural parish which inspected every planning application it received. Neighbours were always given the opportunity to express their concerns even if the Parish Council had raised no objection to the application. It was agreed that to reduce the possibility of conflict of interest no member of the planning committee should comment on an application in their own road and that contentious planning applications should be inspected by more than one member of the planning committee. In cases of concern an application would continue to be referred to the Regulatory Board by one of the two Borough Councillors. As elections to the Parish Council would take place in May 2015 it was agreed that the present system would continue for the remainder of the term and Cllr. Craske agreed to carry out some appropriate training for the new Parish Council following the election.


To again discuss the amended Parish Nomination Criteria for Rural Housing.

The Clerk reported that she had made a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and a response would be received by 7/11 which would explain why, where and who made the decision not to consult with Parish Councils. As soon as this information was to hand the matter could be discussed.


Draft GBC Parish Charter.

Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the draft Parish Charter document, which had been distributed to all Members prior to the Meeting, had been presented at the recent Meeting of Parish Chairman which she had attended and all Gravesham Rural Parishes would be given the opportunity to make comment accordingly.


Councillors’ Matters.


As Cllr. Sweetland did not attend the Meeting no report was given.



Cllr. Craske reported that he and Cllr. Pearton still had grant funding available for small projects costing between £250 and £500. Both Borough Councillors would be standing for re-election next May. A recent trip on the River Thames organised by the PLA had revealed that 75% of haulage is carried up the river and not by road. He reminded Members of the Commemorative Service to be held at St. Mary’s Church at 11.00 on 30/10.



Cllr. Howard had received a complaint from a Parishioner that the garage at his property in Norah Lane flooded every time there was heavy rain because a new gully was not emptying properly. Cllr. Howard agreed to forward this complaint to Cllr. Sweetland to deal with.

Cllr. Grey reported that businesses situated in the farm buildings in Taylors Lane were working unsociable hours during the evenings and at weekends. The Borough Council was investigating these complaints. He also reported that gully cleansing needed carrying out in The Adelaide and Lake Drive to help alleviate recent problems with flooding. Concern was expressed regarding the safety of  a tree opposite the school which was badly overhanging the road and on the Chalk Road close to Green Farm Lane there had been another incidence of tree waste being dumped in the road.

Cllr. Pearton reported that the manhole covers had lifted during the recent heavy rain especially on the bridge.

Cllr. Oakeshott had received complaints that during a weekend it was impossible to park at Jupp Court and Cllr. Craske had referred this matter to the Enforcement Officer. She drew Members attention to the excellent floral display in the courtyard at Higham Library produced by Jill Jenner and it was agreed that she would be sent a Christmas card to thank her for her efforts.

The Chairman reported that she had been asked by a local farmer if she would be willing chair a Meeting dealing with the recent flooding of the Higham Marshes. Mr Simmonds of Chalk Road reported that at the present time 21 of his 45 acres of land in the area were under water. The Environment Agency would be bringing in pumps on 1/11. Cllr. Craske reported that a new internal drainage board was to be set up to cover the whole area, including the Marshes, which he hoped would help for the future.

Cllr. James reported problems with noise nuisance from the Three Crutches PH. The noise abatement order had been reactivated as a result of this incident. Cllr. Craske reported that the Borough Council had just taken delivery of a new supply of rubbish bins and he would chase for some of  these to now be installed in the area. Cllr. James suggested that metal sleeves should be installed over the wooden posts to Forge Lane to prolong their life.

Cllr. Carroll reported continuing problems with vehicles parking to both sides of the road outside the Knowle. She suggested that wooden railway sleepers placed on the verge might act as a deterrent and asked if these might come out of Cllr. Sweetland’s allowance.

Cllr. Ashby reported that vegetation was growing out of the road gullies to Norah Lane.

Cllr. Wright reported that he would shortly be arranging for the leylandii trees to the Recreation Ground to be cut back and also the vegetation to the bank opposite the school to be thinned out to help the visibility of the area.       





a.    Planning.

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



Appln. no. 20140791   23, Steadman Close.

Demolition of existing outbuilding and garage and erection of a two-storey side extension to form garage with bedroom and en-suite shower room over and a single storey rear extension to form enlarged kitchen/diner and utility room.

Appln. no. 20140883   Communication Station Hutchison 3 G Ltd., Gravesend Road.

ADJOINS OUR PARISH. Application for determination pursuant to part 24 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 as to whether prior approval is required for the siting and appearance of a replacement 12m high tower mast and associated works.

Appln. no. 20140893   Land adjacent to 55, Forge Lane.

Demolition of existing garages and erection of a detached two storey three bedroom dwelling with rooms in the roof space with provision of parking spaces in front garden.


c.    Memorial Hall.

       Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the water boiler to the kitchen of the Memorial Hall was not working correctly at the present time.


i.    Merston Court

      Cllr. Carroll reported that the new chairs had now arrived.


m.  Neighbourhood Forum (formerly PACT).

       Peter Leakey reported that the next Meeting of the Neighbourhood Forum would take place in Higham Library on 2/12. The dog waste bags provided by the Parish Council had now been placed within Higham Library. He had received a complaint from an elderly lady who was nearly blind and who found  it very difficult to cross the road safely by the Post Office. She wanted to start a petition for the junction to be made safer. It was agreed that Peter Leakey would ask her to write to Bryan Sweetland in the first instance. Cllr. Mendzil suggested  she also contacted the RNIB Campaigns Department to see if it would take up the matter on her behalf.   


n.    Kent Community Warden.

       Steve Gray reported that Higham Library was still closed to the public following a flood on 13/10 caused by a drain on the roof being blocked by moss. It was expected to be closed for between 2-3 weeks. He urged all Councillors to respond to the consultation document for the KCC Community Warden Service by the closing date of 9/11.

       A total of 4 counts of fly tipping had been collected including the concrete railway sleepers to Crutches Lane which had been collected by Kent Highways with a special lorry. One  litter pick had been requested. A total of 6 speedwatch sessions had been scheduled for this week. The joint community surgery at the end of September had been attended by 2 parishioners. Gravesham Council was investigating a complaint

       regarding dog fouling in Brice Road.



The Clerk asked for approval for the items shown on the following list, this being proposed b y Cllr. James,  seconded by Cllr. Carroll  and agreed by all Members.


St. John’s College Cambridge ( ½  year rent for R.G. by S.O.)                              250.00

Clive Stanley (webmaster services 1/7/14 – 30/9/14)                                             144.00   

Clerk’s salary (net amount September)                                                                   953.51 

HMRC  (PAYE/NI September)                                                                               163.01

KCC (LGPS September)                                                                                         300.60

Use of room as office (1/7/14 – 30/9/14)                                                                227.50

PKF Littlejohn LLP (2014 audit)                                                                            360.00

Southern Water (allotments)                                                                                   116.51

BT (broadband)                                                                                                       137.46   

Admin. Exps (1/7/14 to 30/9/14)                                                                            727.82



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.    Members noted the conclusion of the 2014 audit.

2.    Members noted the Kent Highways Parish and Town Council Seminar on 17/11 but no one was able to attend.

3.    Members were urged to respond to the KCC Community Warden and KCC Budget Consultation documents on-line.


To note the dates of the next Parish Council Meetings.

These were given as being Monday, 10th November at 7.30 p.m. for the Budget and Finance Meeting and the Christmas Meeting would be held on Monday, 24th  November 2014 at 7.30 p.m. with the Mayor of Gravesham in attendance.


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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