Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the Ordinary Parish Council Meeting, February 2015
[ 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, 23rd February 2015 at 7.30 p.m.

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

                                               Borough Councillor: Cllr. H. Craske

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

                                               P. Oakeshott, and  L. Pearton (also Borough).

                                               Parish Council Advisors:- Peter Allinson, Simon Hearn and

                                               Sue Sparks.                                                                                            

In attendance:                          6 Parishioners

                                               Kent Community Warden Steve Gray.

                                               PCSO Sharon Balman.

                                               Liz Jeffery – Village Correspondent and Press Officer.

Apologies for absence:              Cllrs. Sweetland,  Howard, James, Wright and Mendzil     


Prior to the commencement of the Meeting the Chairman welcomed the three new Parish Council advisors who had expressed an interest in assisting the Parish Council on the run up to the Parish Council Election in May.


The Chairman accepted apologies for absence.

There were no alterations to the Register of Members Interests.

The Clerk reported that there was now mention on every inspection report for the Recreation Ground of goal post holes being exposed giving a risk of injury. Pat Jeal reported that she had run the Eagles Football teams since 1979 and had never been asked to cover these holes. She had asked for a Meeting with the Park Ranger on site.


The Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting, held on Monday, 12th January 2015, were confirmed and signed


Matters arising from the Minutes.

Including an update of actions from the last Minutes, the Clerk reported that:-

a.  P. 1153. Parishioners Matters. Copies of Inside Track were now being emailed to Keith Bradley and Peter Morriss.

b.  P. 1154. Railway Tavern.  A copy of the objection submitted to the Borough Council was in the correspondence folder.

c.  P. 1156. Dangerous Crossing. An article was to appear in the Annual Newsletter asking Parishioners to write to KCC about the dangers of crossing the road outside the Post Office. The Chairman agreed to ask the new Postmistress if a pro-forma letter could be collected from within the Post Office.

d. Web site report. During the rolling 12 month period there had been a total of 65,905  hits to the Parish website with 5816 visitors in January alone.

Cllr. Oakeshott reported that she continued to receive complaints regarding parents at Gads Hill School parking their cars on the main road and not using the school car park since the lower gate had been locked (P. 1155 of the Minutes refers). Cllr. Craske confirmed that the new Parking Officer at the Borough Council was due to visit the site and discuss the matter further.


Parishioners’ Matters.

Barry Sutherland, of St. John’s Road, reported that the hedge trimming to the side of Upshire House was still outstanding and that the foliage had now encroached,  partially obscuring the slow sign painted on the road. White lining still required refreshing to School Lane. He and Jo Raff also reported on a recent hire of the Memorial Hall for an 18th birthday party which had resulted in  smashed bottles and discharged fire extinguishers being left amongst the mess which it had taken 4 people to clear up. Cllr. Oakeshott agreed to enquire further at the forthcoming Memorial Hall Meeting.

Peter Leakey, of Chilton Drive, reported that 3 speedwatch sessions had been held since the last meeting. Four speeding vehicles had been identified (with a top speed of 44 mph.) and these had been reported to the Police. He again appealed for more volunteers to join the Speedwatch team and reminded those present of the forthcoming presentation to be held at the Annnual Parish Assembly.

Mr Jefferson, of Martins Close, reported that rubbish had been observed falling from Medway Skip Hire vehicles which had not been covered whilst travelling along the Lower Rochester Road. This debris had fallen in the gutter and had now been collected up by local residents in black bin bags which required collection. It was widely expected that these vehicles were travelling to and from the Queens Farm Road  site and Cllr. Grey again appealed for Cllr. Sweetland to intervene and ensure that the terms of the Operators Licence were being met. Mr Jefferson reported that the hedge cutting to the Lower Rochester Road had now been completed.   


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

The Clerk reported that since that last Meeting a face to face meeting had been held with Savills. The College had accepted Jo Raff’s request to be granted a sub-lease and had increased the length of the Head Lease to 20 years from October 2012 with security of tenure at the end of that time for the Parish Council. The Parish Council would pay a basic rent of £3000 per annum  and  in addition the college would be entitled to 50% of whatever the Parish Council charged Jo for rent on top of this basic. Rent reviews would now take place every 5 years with the first falling due in October 2017. Suzanne Green would now clear out the remaining items from the Pavilion and pass her keys to Jo. Any outstanding charges for electricity for the Pavilion since Suzanne Green paid her last bill would be met by the Parish Council. It was therefore proposed by Cllr. Oakeshott, seconded by Cllr. Pearton and agreed by all Members that the following resolution be passed:-

The Parish Council acknowledges the work being done to secure agreement with St. John’s College and, subject to any further negotiations and agreements, supports the Heads of Agreement between the two parties as amended by an email dated 18th February 2015 from the Agent from the College. Subject to any further amendments the Chairman and Clerk may enter into agreement with the College. Should any amendments not be agreed the matter will be reported back to the Parish Council. The Parish Council further agrees to proceed with the on-going negotiations with the Higham Youth Club to secure a sub-lease of the Pavilion.   


Annual Parish Newsletter and Annual Parish Assembly 2015.

Quotations had been received from three printing companies but Members unanimously agreed to proceed with a quotation for £1010 from Willow Print which had carried out the printing of the 2014 Newsletter. The newsletters would be delivered by the Scouts on 27/3.   The speaker for the Annual Parish Assembly on 16th April would be Sandra Soder who would talk about “Royal Visits to Gravesham” 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 decide on the future of the Friday Night at the Proms Event.

The Clerk reported that as last year’s concert had run at a huge loss for the first time ever due to poor attendance it had been decided that it would not run this year. It had been felt that the weather had been the problem but when the Chairman had spoken to some Parishioners they had advised her that it needed a “makeover” and it was too predictable. Parishioners would be asked to put forward ideas and suggestions for a new themed event for 2016.  It was noted that this summer there would be concerts at both churches.



To receive an update on  the Memorial Hall car park public conveniences.

The Clerk reported that the Parish Council had now been granted 100% rate relief for the toilet building and this meant that outgoings were now minimal.


To receive a report on the Meeting with Brandon Lewis, Planning Minister.

Cllr. Craske reported that Adam Holloway had arranged for a group of Parish  Councillors from the Gravesham Rural Parishes to meet with Brandon Lewis, Planning Minister,  in Westminster. The Meeting had been both interesting and productive with the Minister promising a grant of £8000 per Parish which wished to undertake the production of a Parish Plan. It would be possible for the Parishes to pool their grants to share a consultant and some rural parishes were keen on this idea. Following discussion it was felt that it would be in the interest of Higham to produce its own Parish Plan and this would be an item for discussion once the Local Council elections had taken place in May.


To discuss the advantages of producing a Parish Plan.

This topic had already been discussed in the previous item.


Councillors’ Matters.


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



Cllr. Craske thanked Cllrs Grey and Ashby for speaking at the Regulatory Board  Meeting and was able to confirm that the Planning Application for the Railway Tavern PH had been refused. The Borough Council was to hold a microchipping session for dogs at the Memorial Hall on 17/3.The Council Tax setting meeting would take place the following evening.   



Cllr. Grey reported that the BT phone box had been removed from the Railway Tavern car park. The verge by Dickens Court was now just mud and a truck was regularly parked facing the wrong way on a bend opposite St. John’s Road. Cllr. Craske agreed to ask Cllr. Sweetland if he had any more funding for bollards and PCSO Balman noted down the details of the vehicle. Cllr. Craske also suggested  asking Tony Atherton to give consideration to the verges in question  being included in his next Borough review of verges where parking was forbidden. Cllr. Ashby agreed to ask Balfour Beatty if it had any spare sleepers to go on the side of the roads to obstruct parking.

Cllr. Oakeshott  reported dog fouling to Forge Lane and rubbish to the wood at the bottom of Pear Tree Lane.

Cllr. Carroll reported a problem at Alexandra Cottages where a property was now suffering from mould following a visit from contractors. Cllr. Craske agreed to refer this to the Housing Manager. The slip roads on and off the Wainscott By Pass at Higham and the nearby  Gravesend Road were strewn with rubbish at the present time.

Cllr. Ashby reported street lights not lit outside the Gardeners Arms PH, opposite the Memorial Hall and  outside no. 14 Norah Lane. The surface of the slip road to the By Pass was also breaking up and there was a pot hole at the top of Villa Road.







a.    Planning.

      Plans were available for the following planning applications which had been received and

       reviewed by the Planning Committee:-


Appln. no. 20141054   Stables Cottage, Hermitage Road.

Formation of a sand school (menage) on land to the rear of Stables Cottage.

Appln. no. 2014 1205   63, Oak Drive.

Erection of two storey side and single storey rear extensions incorporating the enlargement of the existing dormer extensions in the front and rear roof slopes to form garage with open area in front, workshop, cloakroom, utility room and kitchen at ground floor level with bedroom, bathroom and study at first floor level.

Appln. no. 20150037   39, Norah Lane.

Erection of two storey side and rear extensions, incorporating two dormer windows in the front roof slope, three dormer windows in the rear roof slope and a gable end roof, to form garage, an enlarged kitchen/diner and lounge; with the addition of a first floor level to form four bedrooms, two ensuite bath/shower rooms and a bathroom.

Appln. no. 20141013   Stables Cottage, Hermitage Road.

Change of use of agricultural land at the side into residential curtilage, alterations to the driveway to create additional off-road parking, erection of front and side boundary fence and entrance gates to the front boundary varying in height from 1.23 – 1.35 m.

Appln. no. 20141034   Stables Cottage, Hermitage Road.

Retention of two stables and concrete base and field shelter thereon and extension of the concrete base.

Appln. no. 20141170   Barn Adjacent Home Farm Cottage, School Lane.

Change of use of ancillary outbuilding to an independent two bedroom dwelling with home office, parking, landscaping and a separate curtilage to Home Farm Cottage.  

Appln. no. 20150039   Mockbeggar, Town Road.

Erection of a detached triple bay garage with log store and a detached workshop with garden store.

Appln. no. 20150108   17, Telegraph Hill.

Erection of single storey extensions on the front and both side elevations, two storey rear extension at lower ground and ground floor level incorporating a verandah at ground floor level, construction of three dormer windows in the front roof slope, two dormer windows in the rear roof slope, alterations to the roof  to provide habitable rooms in the proposed roof space.


i.     Merston Court

       The Chairman reported that hostesses were needed at the present time.


j.     Higham Youth Club.

       Jo Raff reported that numbers attending the last session of the Youth Club were approximately 50.


m.   Higham Neighbourhood Forum (formerly PACT)

        Peter Leakey reported that the next Meeting would be held in Higham Library on 3/3.

n.    Kent Community Warden.

       Steve Gray reported that 5 counts of flytipping had been collected by the Borough Council. Litter picks had been requested for Old Watling Street and Crutches Lane.   The Community Surgery held on 29/1 had been attended by 2 Parishioners. He had attended a Meeting on Chalk Road to discuss speeding. He had distributed copies of a new dog fouling poster around the village and he and Peter Leakey would be presenting a gift token, supplied by the Parish Council, to its designer.

o.    Kent Police.

        PCSO Sharon Balman reported that at the present time most of the crime in the village consisted of break-ins to homes, garages and sheds and she had shed alarms and property marking kits available on a first come first served basis.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    


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


BT (broadband)                                                                                                                149.50

Mrs E. Jeffery (VSO expenses)                                                                                          30.00

Youth Leader (Sept. 14 to Feb. 15 )                                                                                  1530.00  

Action with Communities in Rural Kent (2015 subscription)                                                   35.00

Clerks salary (January net)                                                                                                969.14

HMRC (PAYE/NI  January)                                                                                             174.01

KCC (LGPS January)                                                                                                       307.22

Clerk (address labels)                                                                                                         62.33

Admin Exps. (1/10/14 – 31/12/14)                                                                                    1040.28

Shaw & Sons (receipts and payments book)                                                                         70.80

Internet Stationers (analysis books)                                                                                    114.55



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. Members noted the closure of Higham Post Office at the present time for modernisation.

2. Members noted the Annual Meeting with Savills on the Recreation Ground on 3/6


To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.

This was given as being Monday, 30th March 2015.


Any Other Business.

It was agreed to defer further discussion regarding the allotments until the return of Cllr. Howard.


There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 10.15 p.m.




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