Higham Parish Council
Minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly, April 2016
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Minutes of the Annual Parish Assembly held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Thursday, 14th April 2016 at 7.30 p.m.
Present: Cllr Mrs J.M.Papadopulos (Chairman)
Kent County Councillor: Cllr. B. Sweetland.
Borough Councillor: Cllr. H. Craske.
Councillors:- P. Allinson, J. Grey, S. Hearn, A.Howard,
E. Jeffery, P. Oakeshott, L. Pearton (also Borough),
and S. Sparks.
In attendance: 37 Parishioners
Apologies for absence: Received from Cllrs. Carroll and Mendzil.
Kent Community Warden Steve Gray, PCSO Sharon Balman
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, 16th April 2015, were confirmed and signed.
Matters arising from the Minutes.
The Clerk reported that:-
1. Dangerous crossing point outside Higham Post Office. It was understood that works outside the Post Office were due to be completed in May 2016.
2. Survey of verges throughout the village. This matter is still ongoing.
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 2016” 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. 15)
b. Planning (P. 13)
c. Recreation Ground (P. 4)
The draft simplified statement of accounts for 2015/2016 (P.8) was agreed by all those present, this being proposed by Cllr. Oakshott and seconded by Cllr. Howard. Those present noted that the balance to be carried forward into the new financial year was £50,809.09 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 recalled that nine years ago he and the Chairman had taken part in a live interview on Radio Kent about the subject of the Lower Thames Crossing. This topic continued to take up an increasing amount of his time following the recent consultation process and such was his disgust that KCC had chosen to support Option C that he had resigned from his post in the KCC Cabinet in protest. He was pleased to report that Gravesham Borough Council had put aside £150,000 into a fighting fund to oppose Option C. A Steering Group had been formed with representatives from Parish Councils and other local residents and would continue the fight that had been started. He thanked all residents for taking part in the consultation process and working so hard to make our case.
David Mead recalled that former County Councillor Frank Gibson had also resigned his post to fight the Wainscott By Pass and applauded Cllr. Sweetland for his action.
Barry Sutherland asked Cllr. Sweetland if KCC was aware of the current lack of policing within the village. Cllr. Sweetland confirmed that elections for the new Police and Crime Commissioner would shortly take place and that this should be an item to raise with them. He was pleased to note that Higham still had a Kent Community Warden although their numbers had now been reduced to 70.
Report from District Council Representatives.
Cllr. Harold Craske confirmed that he was currently Chairman of the Licensing Committee, and also on the North Kent Internal Drainage Board which would shortly be taking over from the Environment Agency. He had just stood down from being a Member of the Regulatory Board. From May a new agreement with KCC would mean an increase in funding and that all fly tipping would now be reported to the Borough Council. He appealed for anyone who would be 90 years of age this year to contact the Borough Council as a special street party on Civic Square with hundreds of children was planned. In May he would become Deputy Mayor of the Borough which would be a great honour.
Cllr. Pearton thanked all those present for attending the Assembly and hoped that they would also support the celebrations to mark the Queen’s 90th Birthday within the village.
Report from the Governors of Higham Primary School (P.30)
Report of the Kent Association of Local Councils (P.11)
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.
Higham Recreation Ground update.
The Clerk reported that a new 20 year lease (backdated to 2012) had been signed with a reduced rent of £3000 per annum as compared to the original £7500. A sub-lease would shortly be signed with Jo Raff and her team which would give them security of tenure for the Pavilion for the duration of our lease and it was hoped that this would be invaluable in securing her further grant aid for the ongoing improvement works. It was hoped that Parishioners would join us on 11th June when we will not only raise a glass to Her Majesty the Queen in her 90th Year but also celebrate the fact that the Recreation Ground was able to be saved for our village.
David Mead congratulated the Parish Council on this achievement but remained saddened that the Parish Council did not own this land themselves.
Peter Allinson outlined the events planned for the Royal Celebration Event in June which would feature brass and jazz bands, a festival of light parade and a grand Firework Display finale. Entry would be by a programme which would be available from village outlets.
To consider any other matters raised by Parishioners.
David Mead reminded the Parish Council that, according to law, the allotments should not make a profit. The Clerk confirmed that that at the present time consideration was being given to extending the water supply through the allotment gardens which was quite a costly project and was not reflected in the accounts.
Barry Sutherland queried why the Eagles Football Club was not charged for the use of the Recreation Ground. The Clerk reported that the Club carried out regular maintenance to the football pitch which ensured that this was not an additional cost for the Parish Council to meet.
Cllr. Harold Craske reminded Parishioners of the monthly surgery and afternoon tea which was held in conjunction with the Community Warden Steve Gray on the last Thursday of each month in Higham Library.
Any Other Business.
None was brought to the notice of the Meeting.
The Need for a Parish Plan.
Cllr. Sparks highlighted the current threat to green belt land and the rural nature of the North Kent Communities. One way to manage these concerns was to develop a Parish Plan for Higham. A Parish Plan is a document that tackles the important issues that will influence our village in the future. The Parish Council was keen to get started on developing a Plan for Higham but widespread and effective community involvement was an essential factor in developing a successful Plan. The final Plan would identify key facilities and services, set out the problems which needed to be tackled and show how the distinctive character and features can be conserved. It would include an action plan for our village which would regularly be reviewed and updated.
To start the process Cllr. Sparks had brought two boxes to the Annual Parish Assembly. One was entitled “If only we could…” and the other “What we love about Higham …” She invited those present to use the refreshment break to record their thoughts on the postcards provided and post them into the appropriate box. Regular updates regarding the progress of the Parish Plan would be posted on the village boards and on the website and information regarding forthcoming events would be provided by way of a leaflet drop.
Update on the Pavilion Project.
Jo Raff outlined details of the works already carried out to the Pavilion Building and confirmed that to date she had raised some £24,000 towards her target of £30,000. It was envisaged that the building would be used for all ages and would not replace what was already happening in the village but add to it.
The Chairman welcomed Rob Poole, who gave a talk entitled “Railway Curiosities: some of the more unusual aspects of railways”.
To note the date of the next Annual Parish Assembly.
This was given as being Thursday, 13th April 2017 at 7.30 p.m.
The Chairman thanked The Clerk, fellow Members of the Parish Council, the County Representative, and the Borough Representatives, for their support over the past year.
Together they had formed a brilliant team.
She thanked Kate Reeves, of Higham Oven Bake, for providing the 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 10.10 p.m.
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