Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the Ordinary Parish Council Meeting, January 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, 12th January 2015 at 7.30 p.m.  

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

                                               County Councillor:- Cllr. B. Sweetland

                                               Councillors: G. Ashby, A. Carroll,  J.Grey, A. Mendzil,  P. Oakeshott, L. Pearton (also Borough) and S. Wright.

In attendance:                          Liz Jeffery – Village Correspondent and Press Officer.

                                               Kent Community Warden Steve Gray

                                               13 Parishioners

Apologies for absence:             Received from Borough Councillor H. Craske, and Councillors James and Howard.

                                               PCSO Sharon Balman.


The Chairman welcomed all those present to the first meeting of the New Year.

The Chairman accepted apologies for absence.      

There were no alterations to the Register of Members Interests.

The Clerk reported that the GBC contractor had now removed as much of the pink emulsion paint as he could from the play equipment. The rubbish bags to the bins had again been set alight. The Annual Safety Report of the play equipment had revealed no high risk items.


The Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting, held on Monday, 24th  November 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. 1150. Parish. Street lighting to Reynolds Fields Estate. The lights that were now being switched off at midnight had all recently been replaced by KCC and were now on a part night timeclock.

b.   P. 1150. Parish. Grit Bin. A new 400 litre grit bin with 2 padlocks was now positioned outside the greengrocers. There were three keyholders amongst the shopkeepers and each had a shovel, bucket  and spade. It was hoped that Kent Highways would take over refilling the bin in future years.

c.  Web site report.  During the rolling 12 month period there had been a total of 62,555 hits to the Parish website with 3833 visitors in December alone.   

Steve Gray reported that he had monitored the vehicle seen parking over a marked mobility scooter crossing point in Brice Road (P. 1149 of the Minutes refers) but could confirm that he had never seen it parked there.


Parishioners’ Matters.

Mr Taylor, of Martins Close, reported that the cutting back of the vegetation to the Lower Rochester Road was now complete.

Keith Bradley, of Carton Road, reported that the offer to demolish the toilet block to the Memorial Hall car park had now been withdrawn by the Hall Committee. He asked for assistance in finding grants that were available at the current time. It was suggested that he contact Will Farmer, the Community Engagement Officer for Gravesham, who would be able to send him any information.


To review the additional resolution passed at the last Meeting.

It was proposed by Cllr. Carroll, seconded by Cllr. Oakeshott and agreed by all Members that the additional resolution passed at the Parish Council Meeting held on 24th November 2014 be further extended to 23rd February to allow further negotiation with an interested party.

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

The Clerk reported that following meetings with key stakeholders within the Parish, Meopham Leisure had finally decided not to proceed further with the initiative as they considered that it would not be financially viable. The Chairman reported that the Parish Council had asked if it would be possible to buy the Recreation Ground from the College and she had spoken to the former Chairman of the Parish Council, Peter Brice, to see if he had any land  to rent in the vicinity.

On behalf of Higham Youth Club, Jo Raff, had now indicated that she would be interested in taking over the Pavilion and, following a site visit prior to a Youth Club Committee Meeting, her Committee had confirmed that this was the case. She had now formally written to the Parish Council asking if it would consider her proposal and recommend it to the College.

Jo Raff addressed those present and outlined her ideas to turn the Pavilion into a Community Youth Hub (Higham Hub) to extend the range of activities that would be available for Young People. The Youth Club Members had made suggestions for all sorts of activities which they would like to see take place and she had now produced a preliminary business plan which she gave to the Clerk. Eventually it was hoped that the Higham Hub would be open for seven days a week and would be run by a full time manager with two part time assistants. The Youth Club was applying for Charity Status and this would make it easier for it to apply for grants. Parents of Youth Club Members were already signing up to help with fundraising and she had received pledges of cash donations. Michael Broome suggested that local businesses should be asked if they would like to sponsor an activity to help get it off the ground.

Following a secret ballot Members of the Parish Council voted in favour of supporting the proposal that the Pavilion be turned into a Community Youth Hub and the Clerk was asked to forward the business plan to our solicitor for onward transmission to the College for approval.


To reach a decision on the future of the Friday Night at the Proms event.

The Clerk reminded Members that only 180 people had attended the 2014 Friday Night at the Proms event and the event had run at a loss of over £500. Members discussed other options of having two bands instead of one, using a different venue or even holding the event at  a different time of year. The Chairman reminded Members that at the end of the summer the Queen would become the longest reigning monarch and wondered if this might be an opportunity for the village to come together and celebrate with an event. It was agreed to ask Parishioners how they felt about the Proms event before a final decision was taken.


To note the current vacancy on the Parish Council and discuss if it should be filled by co-option.

The Clerk reported that there was currently a vacancy on the Parish Council due to the resignation of Barry Sutherland. Being mindful of the advice given by the Kent Association that even though it would only be for three meetings,  it was a good opportunity for someone to be co-opted on to the Parish Council before deciding if they wanted to apply to become a Parish Councillor at the election, Members asked the Clerk to prepare notices for the boards with a closing date of the end of January. It was hoped that an appointment could be made before the next Parish Council Meeting.


Annual Parish Newsletter 2015.

The Clerk collected in copy material for the 2015 Annual Parish Newsletter and reminded Members of the deadlines that applied to this year’s edition.


To discuss the planning application for the site of the former Railway Tavern P.H.

Concern was expressed by Parish Councillors at the loss of another village facility and a phone box which was also on the site in question. Following discussion the Clerk was asked to object to the planning application on the grounds that had been discussed and Cllrs. Grey and Ashby agreed to attend the forthcoming Regulatory Board Meeting to speak against the proposal.

Councillors’ Matters.


Cllr. Sweetland  reported that the County Council had just commenced its consultation regarding the 99 libraries in Kent. It was proposed that they should be transferred to a separate Libraries Charitable Trust which would save on the business rates payable. Following the consultation on the Kent Community Warden Service it had been agreed to keep the existing Wardens and let numbers dwindle by natural wastage. It was rumoured that a decision would not be made on the route for the Lower Thames Crossing until 2016.



In the absence of Cllr. Craske the Clerk reported that he was currently trying to arrange a meeting with the Borough’s new parking officer to try and resolve the parking problems to Crutches Lane outside Providence Cottages. The new “lorry” sign opposite Canal Road had been ordered and was awaiting fixing. The sign showing the routes to the Parish Churches was currently with KCC awaiting approval. The planning application for the Railway Tavern had been called in to the Regulatory Board. He would be attending the Meeting with the Planning Minister Brandon Lewis in London on 9/2.

Cllr. Pearton reported that this year’s pantomine had been a great success and well attended.



Cllr. Grey reported that the white lines to both School Lane and Forge Lane needed repainting as well as those on the speed humps, and the bushes at Upshire House were extending into School Lane and obscuring sight lines. A truck was regularly parked outside Dickens Court where the grass verge had now been destroyed by vehicle tyres. Cllr. Pearton agreed to speak to the Borough Council to see if stakes with signs could be placed on the verge.

Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the residents of Providence Cottages wanted the lower gate to the school car park reopened as there was now traffic congestion with traffic entering and exiting by the same upper gate. They had been asked by the school to park in a different alignment and wanted a proper consultation about this matter. Cllr. Pearton explained that the school had agreed to close the lower gate for a trial period but it now appeared that cars were avoiding using the school car park and were parking again on the Gravesend Road causing traffic problems there.

Cllr. Ashby reported street lights unlit to Villa Road.    






a.    Planning.

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


Appln. no. 20140993 The Old Barn, Chalk Road..

Erection of a detached two bedroom, two storey dwelling on land in front of existing property.

Appln. no. 20141115   Railway Tavern, Chequers Street.

Conversion of the public house into a four bedroom dwelling incorporating the demolition of existing front and rear extensions and erection of a pair of semi-detached, three storey, four bedroom dwellings at the side with integral garages , associated parking spaces and sheds/cycle racks.

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

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

Appln. no. 20141117   Long Reach, Elm Close.

Erection of an open porch at the front.

Appln. no. 20141125   Homerest, Gore Green Road.

Demolition of existing dwelling and garage, reduction of ground levels by 1000mm and erection of a detached three bedroom bungalow with rooms in the roof space and a detached single garage at the side.

Appln. no. 20141157   81, Oak Drive.

Erection of single storey side extension to form porch, enlarged hallway and sitting room and an increase in the width of existing dormer extension in the front roof slope.

Appln. no. 20141182   33, Forge Lane.

Erection of a first floor side extension on north elevation and conversion of garage.

Appln. no. 20141185   5, Telegraph Hill.

Application for a minor material amendment to planning permission reference number 20130860 for the erection of single storey front and rear extension to form porch, lounge, utility room and conservatory/kitchen; to allow the reduction of the width of the front extension.

Appln. no. 20141201   12, Walmers Avenue.

Demolition of existing detached chalet bungalow and erection of a four bedroom detached bungalow with rooms at lower ground (basement) level.


i.       Merston Court.

         Cllr. Carroll reported that Age Concern desperately needed both drives and hostesses at the present time.


l.       Rural Housing.

         Cllr. Grey reported that he and Cllr. Oakeshott had spoken to Sharon Donald at the Borough Council and were now confident that the Rural Housing Nomination Criteria for Higham had been safeguarded.


m.    Higham Neighbourhood Forum (formerly PACT).

         Peter Leakey reported that the next Meeting would be held on 3/3. Guy Rollinson of Speedwatch would be attending the Annual Parish Assembly to give more details about the scheme and possibly demonstrate the equipment. An article would be placed in the newsletter asking for Parishioners to write to KCC regarding the dangers of crossing the road outside the Post Office.


n.      Kent Community Warden.

         Steve Gray reported that 3 counts of flytipping had been reported and collected and a litter pick had been requested for Crutches Lane. The next Community Surgery would take place on 29/1. The recent Community Safety Shop in the St. Georges Centre Gravesend  in early December had been well attended.




The Clerk presented the quarterly financial statement for the period 01/10/14 – 31/12/14).

She asked for approval for the items shown below, this being proposed by Cllr.Wright seconded by Cllr.Carroll  and agreed by all Members:-


Southern Water (allotments)                                                                                                   6.57

Clerk’s salary (November – net)                                                                                         953.51

HMRC (PAYE/NI November)                                                                                          163.01

KCC (LGPS November)                                                                                                    300.60

Exps for use of room as office (1/10/14-31/12/14)                                                                227.50

Clerk’s salary (December – net)                                                                                         991.37

HMRC (PAYE/NI December)                                                                                           191.65

KCC (LGPS December)                                                                                                    317.19

Clive Stanley (webmaster services)                                                                                    128.00

North West Turf Ltd. (lockable grit bin and salt)                                                                  209.99                             


The revised national salary scale for the Clerk from 1/1/15 was noted.


Report from the Budget and Finance Committee Meeting held on 17th November 2014.

Copies of the report had been circulated to Members prior to the Meeting. Following discussion amongst Members it was proposed by Cllr.Pearton, seconded by Cllr. Oakeshott  and agreed by all Members that a precept of £60,151.79 be requested for the financial year 2015/2016.


Internal Control and Audit System.

At the Budget and Finance Committee Meeting Members had reviewed the effectiveness of the current system of internal control and audit as required under Regulations 4 and 6 of the Accounts and Audit Regulations (2003) and found it to be satisfactory. Members therefore unanimously agreed that no changes were necessary at the present time.



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 the lack of Police presence at meetings and the problems of vehicles parking on grass verges within the village would be placed on the agenda for discussion at the forthcoming meeting of Parish Chairmen on 28/1.

2.    Cllrs. Grey, Pearton and Craske would travel to the House of Commons on 9/2 to meet with the Planning Minister, Brandon Lewis, MP.


To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.

This was given as being Monday, 23rd  February 2015 at 7.30 p.m.


To note the revised date of the 2015 Annual Parish Assembly.

This was given as being Thursday, 16th April 2015 at 7.30 p.m.


Any Other Business.

A vote of thanks was given to Liz Jeffery for reading out the Clerk’s notes for the meeting as she had completely lost her voice.


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



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