Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the Ordinary Parish Council Meeting, January 2017

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Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Monday, 16th January 2017 at 7.30 p.m.  

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

                                                Borough Councillor:- Cllr. H. Craske

                                                Councillors: P.Allinson, A.Carroll,  J.Grey,  P.Holmes,

                                                E. Jeffery,  P.Oakeshott, L Pearton (also Borough) and S.Sparks.

In attendance:                          Kent Community Warden Steve Gray

                                                3 Parishioners

Apologies for absence:              Received from KCC Councillor Bryan Sweetland and Cllr. Howard.

                                                Cllr. Mendzil did not attend the Meeting.


The Chairman welcomed all those present to the first meeting of the New Year but especially the new Parish Councillor Pam Holmes.


The Chairman accepted apologies for absence.      

There were no alterations to the Register of Members Interests.


The Clerk confirmed the receipt of the ROSPA report for the Recreation Ground, a copy of which had been given to the Youth and Community Committee. The Borough Council had confirmed that it had a Wicksteed Speedway roundabout which had been removed from Woodlands Park and which was available free of charge to the Parish Council. Members agreed to investigate installation costs and report back before proceeding.          


The Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting, held on Monday, 28th November 2016, were confirmed and signed


Matters arising from the Minutes.

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

a.   P. 1229. Matters Arising – Community Resolution. This meeting had never taken place as the Police had decided to bring in the culprit to the Police Station to speak severely to them and show them the CCTV footage.

b.   P. 1229. Matters Arising – RS Skips. The full planning decision had now been received.

c.   P. 1229. Matters Arising – Parliamentary Boundary proposals – consultation. A response had been sent from the Parish Council endorsing the views already expressed by both Cllrs Allinson and Sparks.

d.   P. 1230. Parishioners Matters. Dog Fouling. A further set of 1000 dog bags had been ordered and when received would be placed within Higham Library. Cllr. Craske confirmed that a clean up of the worst affected areas of the village had been arranged. Cllr. Pearton asked if dog bags could also be available in Lower Higham and agreed to speak to the owner of the Garage in Chalk Road to see if he would be willing to hold a supply. Cllr. Sparks agreed to place details of where all dog bags were obtainable on Facebook. She also hoped to speak with the school to see if the children would be able to design some more posters regarding cleaning up after your dog.

e.   P. 1230. Thameslink Consultation. A response had been sent by the Parish Council endorsing the views already submitted by Kent County Council.

f.    P. 1231. County. Cllr. Sweetland had confirmed that he now had sufficient grant funds left for the current financial year to finance the whole cost of the defibrillator.

g.    P. 1231. Parish. Bright street light to Mountbatten Avenue. The necessary action would cost £48 and could be shared between the resident and the Parish Council.

h.   P. 1231. Parish. Salt store to Merston Court. Cllr. Allinson reported that he had again been asked to remove the salt from the premises. Cllr. Oakeshott agreed to speak to Sharon Donald regarding the ownership of the garage where it was being stored. Cllr. Allinson expressed concern that the equipment might now be useless if it had been in contact with the salt although the Parish Council had always ensured that that it had been stored separately.  

i.    P. 1232. Cllr. Grey updated Members on the two KALC Meetings he had recently attended.

j.    P. 1233. AOB. Information regarding the proposed gas main replacement works throughout the village, which would last until the Summer, had now been placed on the website, village boards and inside Higham Library. Cllr. Sparks confirmed that it was also available on the Facebook page.

k.    Members noted the report of the recent JTB Meeting attended by Cllr. Jeffery.

l.   Web site report.  Recent additions to the website had included winter weather information, the Love Higham Day, details of Councillor and Warden drop in surgeries, Crutches Lane road closure and details of gas main works plans, Christmas and New Year holiday bin recycling dates and Minutes and Agenda documents.


Parishioners’ Matters.

Barry Sutherland, of St. Johns Road, updated Members regarding the progress of the gas main replacement works in St. John’s Road. Although access to crossovers and driveways had been promised at all times this was not the case as trench covers were no longer being used. He asked that the Parish Council consider appointing a Member as a point of contact for the duration of the works in case any problems arose. He clarified that current waiting times at the Doctor’s surgery were up to two weeks for an appointment or up to three weeks for an appointment with a specific doctor.

To receive an update on the Recreation Ground Sub-Lease

Cllr. Allinson queried if it was still necessary for Jo Raff and her team to take a sub lease on the Pavilion building. The Clerk reminded Members that the first rent review under the current lease was scheduled to take place in October and that the College would expect that the sub lease would be signed by this time as it was part of the original negotiations which had taken place.


Village Plan update.

Cllr. Sparks asked Councillors to indicate what help they could give for the forthcoming Love Higham day on 4/2 from 11.00 to 17.00 hours.. It was hoped that the event would gather people’s ideas and thoughts about what they would like to see in the village in the future and they would be asked to fill in postcards to this effect. These would also be available at the Library, Station and Greengrocers. Donations of cakes would be welcomed. The event had been advertised by banners and posters throughout the village as well as in The Bridge and Village Voices publication. A treasure trail would raise people’s awareness of the Multi-Purpose Games Area, Recreation Ground and Pavilion. Cllr. Craske issued a note of warning that the Vigo Neighbourhood Plan had been submitted to the Borough Council independent examiners, but following this had never been implemented. He would send a copy to the steering group for their information. 

Lower Thames Crossing update.

Cllr. Allinson confirmed that the 32,000 leaflets had now been delivered to Dartford but had been ignored by Dartford Borough Council. It was hoped that some Dartford residents might write to local newspapers.

To receive a report from the Allotment Sub Committee.

Cllr. Sparks reported that ten allotment holders had attended the recent meeting which had been held. She had walked the allotment gardens with Stuart Wright and it appeared that 4 allotments were now unusable and his advice was that, as it would be very difficult to bring these back into use, they should just be kept trimmed back. As there was currently a good number of vacant plots available, and the new plots that had been created several years ago were also vacant, it was felt that these should be offered back to the farmer to rent. There was confusion over the boundaries of a few plots which needed to be resolved. It was felt that some allotment holders might opt to move to an alternative plot or even reduce to a half plot which should also be available as an alternative. Any plots currently vacant should be sprayed and covered with sheeting to minimise weed growth until they could be let, The availability of plots and half plots should be advertised in the Annual Newsletter, The Bridge, the Parish Council website and on its Facebook page. The Youth Club would like to start a gardening club and should be offered a rent free plot to get this initiative off the ground. A new agreement would need to be prepared for all tenants to sign giving clear guidelines and particularly addressing the weed control issue. Consideration should also be given to charging a year in advance in place of the current arrangement. As numbers on the Allotment Committee were reduced at the present time Cllr. Carroll agreed to join as an additional member and at the same time step down from her role on the Youth and Community Committee.

To receive a report from the Village Roads, Pavements and Lighting Sub Committee.

Cllr. Sparks observed that it was interesting to note that there had been recent emails received regarding traffic management issues within the village and that she would like another item placed on the agenda for the next meeting. It was felt that Parishioners should be encouraged to report “near misses” with vehicles through the “101” service and for this they would need to log the vehicle make and registration number. These incidents should then be taken into consideration along with the actual accident record. Before considering any application for additional yellow lines and parking restrictions within the village a meeting should be arranged with the Parking Services Manager at the Borough Council regarding how best to enforce the restrictions within the village that were currently in place. She had discovered that KCC no longer had portable speed indication devices to loan out and so the PTA might have to consider purchasing its own speed equipment. Before this could be used full training would need to be provided. Villa Road was now considered to be a priority for pavement resurfacing works and the Wainscott By Pass would be cleaned up on 20/2, 21/2 and 22/2 when traffic control cones would be in place.

Annual Parish Newsletter 2017.

The Clerk collected in copy material for the 2017 Annual Parish Newsletter and reminded Members of the deadlines that applied to this year’s edition.


Councillors’ Matters.


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



Cllr. Craske reported that he was already giving consideration to the theme for his Mayoral year. The new Crematorium at Chalk was now open but further works were still underway regarding the completion of the burial grounds. Traffic flows along the A226 were currently being monitored.  In order to help meet the £3 million savings needed to be achieved by the Borough Council Towncentric had now been closed and the service relocated to both the new redeveloped Market and the Civic Centre. There were plans to close a number of public toilets in the town but all attempts were being made to keep frontline services operational.    



Cllr. Pearton reported that a street light was not lit outside Alexander Cottages and that the surfacing to the lower pavement at the end of Reynolds Fields was in poor condition.

Cllr. Grey again alerted Members to parking taking place under the trees in Steadman Close. Some vehicles belonged to commuters, whilst five belonged to the residents of one property. In addition vehicles continued to park on the grass verge opposite the Memorial Hall and he understood that a lady had recently slipped on the mud which had now been deposited on the footpath at this location. Cllr. Grey suggested that the Parish Council should purchase an Application and Decisions document for the cost of £16, already being accessed by some Parishioners, which gave details of applications for Road Traffic Operators Licences in the local area. Members were in agreement that this should take place.

Cllr. Sparks commented on the current dialogue on the Parish Council Facebook page, and an email from the Memorial Hall Committee in the correspondence folder, regarding current problems with parking at the school and suggested that it would be better to get both parties together face to face to discuss the matter rather than using social media. The next litter picking sessions would take place on 12/2 and 5/3 and she hoped to promote these at the forthcoming Love Higham Day and possibly ask people to keep a particular area clean on a regular basis. At the recent Parish Seminar that she had attended, Parishes had been asked if they wanted to take over the responsibility for soft vegetation, hedge and grass cutting within

their Parish. She could see some advantage to taking on some of the soft vegetation areas as this could be combined with the current litter picking initiative and would help to deep clean the areas in question.

Cllr. Allinson reported fly tipping of household items to Crutches Lane behind the fence in the orchard. Steve Gray noted this and confirmed that this land was owned by Shorne Parish Council.  






a.    Planning.

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


Appln. no. 20161124   Meadow Court,  Dillywood  Lane.

Erection of a single storey side extension and provision of canopy to front elevation.

Appln. no. 20161158   Farmcroft, Church Street.

Conversion of existing garage to form a kitchen and erection of an orangery.

Appln. no. 20161176   34, Walmers Avenue.

Erection of first floor rear extension to form enlarged bedroom and construction of a dormer window in the side roof slope.

Appln. no. 20161192   Acme Wines, 21, Forge Lane.

Erection of a single storey rear extension to form store and shower room w.c.

Appln. no. 20160888   Rutherfords Stables, Rear of Hilary Cottage, Hermitage Road.

ADDITIONAL SUPPORTING INFORMATION   Conversion of livery stable and tack rooms into one 4no. bedroom dwelling and one 2no. bedroom self-contained flat with two garages and change of use of land from paddock to residential, including demolition / removal of 3no. detached livery structures.

Appln. no. 20161215   64, School Lane.

Erection of single storey rear and side extension and conversion of the garage into a habitable room.

Appln. no. 20161198   8, Colewood Drive.

Application for minor-material amendment to planning permission reference number 20130409 erection of part two storey and part single storey rear extension to form garden room, enlarged kitchen and sitting room at ground floor level with enlarged bedroom, bedroom and enlarged bathroom/wc at first floor level; to allow the deviation and alterations to the windows and retention of a single storey side extension.

Appln. no. 20161073 (by email only)   11, Vicarage Row, School Lane.

Erection of a wooden out building in the rear garden for use as a beauty therapy salon.


d.     Youth and Community Committee

        Cllr. Allinson reported that a meeting would be held on 30/1 at the Pavilion. It was agreed that Cllr. Holmes would now join the Committee in place of Cllr. Carroll. The Clerk agreed to obtain a copy of the lease for the Memorial Hall (which was due for renewal in 2019) from the Solicitors.


j.      Rural Housing

        Cllr. Oakeshott reported that Gravesham Borough Council had received a government grant to start building small numbers of council houses and Higham was being considered as one of the locations. It was hoped that by building for more specific needs it might free up larger council properties for the future.


k.     Higham Neighbourhood Forum

        The last meeting in December had been attended by 13 Parishioners and the main topic had been the Higham Village Plan with a presentation by Cllr. Sue Sparks.


l.       Kent Community Warden.

         Steve Gray reported that 4 counts of flytipping had been reported and collected and 2 litter picks had been requested. The next Community Surgery would take place at Higham Library on 26/1 at the new time of  13.30 .to 15.00 hours.  The recent Community Safety Shop in Gravesend town centre in early December had been well attended. 




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


Clerk’s salary (November – net)                                                                                     1042.72

HMRC (PAYE/NI November)                                                                                          194.35

KCC (LGPS November)                                                                                                   331.04

Exps for use of room as office (1/10/16-31/12/16)                                                           227.50

Clerk’s salary (December – net)                                                                                      1042.72

HMRC (PAYE/NI December)                                                                                           194.35

KCC (LGPS December)                                                                                                    331.04

Joanne Raff (Youth Leader 28/10/16 to 24/11/16)                                                            400.00

Mr M. Papadopulos (HPC Christmas card)                                                                         29.99                 

St. Johns College (quarter rent for RG)                                                                             750.00

Sue Sparks (Village Plan banners and cards – amended figures)                                      107.55

Sue Sparks (Village Plan prizes)                                                                                           5.42

Sue Sparks (allotment holders meeting refreshments)                                                        14.08

Singlewell Stationery and Print Ltd. (LTC leaflets)                                                          600.00

Clerk (ink costs LTC)                                                                                                        121.43

Clive Stanley (webmaster services 1/10/16 to 31/12/16)                                                  144.00

Sue Sparks (laminator pouches and carriers)                                                                      29.56                                                                                   

Peter Leakey (1000 dog bags)                                                                                             21.99

Action with Communities in Rural Kent (2017 subscription)                                            50.00  

British Telecommunications plc (broadband)                                                                   158.97                          


Report from the Budget and Finance Committee Meeting held on 9th January 2017.

Copies of the report had been circulated to Members prior to the Meeting. Being mindful that a decision was still awaited regarding the proposed Lower Thames Crossing and following discussion amongst Members it was proposed by Cllr.Pearton, seconded by Cllr. Jeffery and agreed by all Members that a precept of £78,780.51 be requested for the financial year 2017/2018.


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. Confirmation had now been received that Council Tax referendum principles would not be extended to Parish Councils for the forthcoming financial year.

2. It was decided to place the problem of dog fouling in rural areas on the agenda for the forthcoming meeting of Parish Council Chairmen on 25/1.


To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.

This was given as being Monday, 27th February 2017 at 7.30 p.m.


Any Other Business.

Cllr. Allinson offered to review the number of Parish Council Committees and offer some rationalisation prior to the Terms of Reference for all Committees being drafted.

The Clerk was asked to send the notes provided from the recent Rural Forum regarding parking on verges to all Members.


There being no other business the Meeting closed at 9.50  p.m.



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