Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the Ordinary Parish Council Meeting, March 2017

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Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Monday, 6th March 2017 at 7.30 p.m.  

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

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

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

In attendance:                          4 Parishioners

                                               Kent Community Warden Steve Gray, Peter Leakey.

Apologies for absence:             Cllrs. Sweetland, Craske, Howard, Holmes, Jeffery and Mendzil.


The Chairman accepted apologies for absence.

There were no alterations to the Register of Members Interests.

The Clerk passed a copy of the latest PR6 report for the Recreation Ground to the Community Development Committee.


The Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting, held on Monday, 16th January 2017, were confirmed and signed


Matters arising from the Minutes.

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

a.  P. 1234 and 1239. Matters Arising. Dog Fouling. Cllr. Allinson reported that this item had been discussed at the last Meeting of Parish Chairmen. The only solution was to encourage and educate dog owners how to dispose of the dog waste and where they could do so. It was suggested that it might be possible to map the exact location of the waste so that the worst affected areas could be identified, and possibly extra bins provided, as well as Parishioners being made aware of the extent of the problem. Cllr. Sparks felt that this could be carried out by the Village Roads, Pavements and Lighting Sub Committee. Cllr. Pearton confirmed that the owner of the garage in Chalk Road was willing to hold a supply of dog waste bags. Clive Stanley suggested that the Borough Council could be asked to send the Green Machine pavement cleanser to Higham each month for half a day to clean the main footpaths in the village.

b.   P.1238. Youth and Community Committee. Although the Memorial Hall lease was not due for renewal until 2019 a copy had been requested from our solicitor.

c.   P. 1239. Copies of notes produced at the recent Rural Forum Meeting regarding parking on verges had been circulated to all Members.

d.   P.1235. Allotments. Cllr. Sparks reported that a plumber was expected on site to try and resolve the problem with the allotment water system which was still ongoing at the present time. She had obtained a NALC template for an allotment agreement and, when finalised, the revised agreement would be brought to a future meeting. The charging system would be changed, with tenants being asked to pay in advance rather than in arrears. She would investigate the costs for trimming back vacant plots and sheeting them over, providing weed killer and numbering plots, for approval at a future meeting.

e.   P. 1235. Matters Arising. Salt Store to Merston Court. Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the Borough Council had given permission for the garage at Merston Court to be used for a salt store for the village. Cllr. Allinson agreed to arrange for the scrap metal to be removed and the locks to be changed following the serving of a notice to this effect.  

f.   P. 1234. Cllr. Oakeshott asked if there had been any progress with the roundabout offered by Gravesham Borough Council. Cllr., Sparks confirmed that the equipment would be viewed before a decision was made.

g.  Web site report. Recent additions to the website had included a message about the Youth Club temporary closure, posters and information for Councillor Drop Ins, Love Higham Day, Board Game Club at the Library, Litter Picking and Great British Clean Up, a plea for Volunteer Centre Drivers, changed date of next Meeting, photographs of the Love Higham Day and the regular Minutes and Agenda documents.


Parishioners’ Matters.

Barry Sutherland, of St. Johns Road, drew Members attention to current problems with school parents using the Memorial Hall car park when collecting children from the school in the afternoon. The car park was private and for the use of hall hirers and as such was not therefore available on a Friday afternoon when HiARA met at the Memorial Hall. It was agreed that Cllr. Sparks would attend the Memorial Hall Committee Meeting the following evening to seek possible solutions to the problem and then speak to representatives from the school, Governing Body and PTA to try and resolve the situation.

Peter Leakey reported that Graham Ashby had expressed concern at the number of people who parked their cars on the single yellow line at the top of Villa Road to visit the car showrooms thus causing a hazard by the traffic lights. It was noted that the yellow line in this location needed repainting. Cllr. Allinson agreed to monitor the situation and contact Mr Atherton accordingly if the problem persisted.

Cllr. Allinson had received a complaint from a Parishioner, who walked with a frame, and was finding it difficult to walk past vehicles which were parked on the A226 partly on the pavement and partly in the cycle lane. Steve Gray agreed to speak to the owners of the vehicles concerned.

Cllr. Carroll had received a complaint from a Parishioner regarding a vehicle parked  on the verge facing the oncoming traffic on the brow of the hill in  School Lane which obscured sight lines. It was noted that the property outside which it was parked currently had building works being undertaken and the parking area at the front could not be used at the present time.


To receive an update on the Recreation Ground sub- lease.

Cllr. Allinson asked that the solicitor be approached to see if a sub-lease really needed to be prepared for the Pavilion Building.


Village Plan update.

Cllr. Sparks circulated a written report to Members providing an update on the Village Plan and invited any comments at the next Meeting. There were now a total of 25 volunteers to help with the litter picking in the village and therefore the Parish Council needed to purchase its own litter picking equipment. The Borough Council had offered to order some for the Parish Council and Cllr. Sparks estimated that a total of £265 would be needed to ensure that 20 kits were available. It was therefore proposed by Cllr. Pearton, seconded by Cllr. Oakeshott and agreed by all Members that this sum should be granted and the equipment should be purchased.  Cllr. Sparks confirmed that more litter picking dates had been scheduled.


The Lower Thames Crossing.

Cllr. Allinson reported that there had been rumours that an announcement as to the chosen route would be made soon. It was however noted that the purdah period for the forthcoming Kent County Council elections would start by the end of the month and if the announcement had not been made by this time it would be delayed until after 4th May when the election took place. The Clerk drew Members’ attention to an email that had been received from Highways England regarding Ecology Surveys which were currently taking place along the route of Option C.


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

Cllr. Sparks reported that the Parish Council had the opportunity to take over the pruning of several soft vegetation areas within the village which had become litter traps and several of the volunteers were keen to take on a designated area and be responsible for maintaining it, such as those to the end of Mountbatten Avenue. The Village Roads, Pavements and Lighting Sub Committee now had an up to date list of street lights within the village and would be checking the position of other orange street lights, such as the one which was currently causing problems in Mountbatten Avenue. Cllr. Pearton reported that several street lights were not lit to Chalk Road at the present time.


Annual Parish Newsletter and Annual Parish Assembly 2017.

The Clerk reported that the preparation of the 2017 Newsletter was well underway.  The newsletters would be distributed in early April by Liz Hart for the cost of £250. Singlewell Stationery and Print Ltd. would again carry out the printing with a competitive price of £1071.  The speaker at the Assembly this year would be Ian Porter whose talk would be entitled “Call the Midwife” and would be an armchair walk through all the locations in Poplar featured in the TV programme with details of the filming of the series and favourite characters. The cost would be £65. Members unanimously approved all payments.


To submit an application to list The Gardeners Arms PH as a Community Asset.

Members noted that this business had now closed since the last Parish Council Meeting. From planning notices affixed to the door it appeared that the brewer, Shepherd Neame, intended to carry out extensive refurbishment works to the premises. Members expressed concern that if a suitable tenant could not be found the property might be converted into flats or placed on the market. Being mindful that this historic building situated on a busy junction at the centre of the village should be safeguarded,  as well as the fact that two public houses had already closed within the village (The Chequers and the Railway Tavern) and both had been the subject of contentious planning applications relating to the redevelopment of the sites into alternative dwellings, it was proposed by Cllr. Sparks, seconded by Cllr. Carroll and agreed by all Members, that an application should be submitted immediately to Gravesham Borough Council for the premises, known as the Gardeners Arms PH,  to be listed as a Community Asset.


To discuss the possible implementation of paperless planning applications.

Cllr. Allinson reported that the Borough Council wished to dispense with sending out paper plans to Parishes from the beginning of April and intended to go ahead with this decision.  The matter had been discussed at the recent meeting of Parish Council Chairmen and resisted by all Gravesham Rural Parishes. Following this meeting Cllrs. Pearton, Sparks and Allinson had visited the Civic Centre and spoken  personally to Borough Planning Officers to better understand how the new system would work. In future only a letter with an embedded link would be sent by email to the Parish. The cost to those Parishes wishing to still receive paper plans would be dependant on the number received but would probably be in the region of £800 to £1000 per annum. For that outlay Parishes could make a one off payment to purchase any additional equipment that they required to allow them to view the paperless planning applications. Paper plans would still be sent for a large application (such as a new housing development) or could be requested on an individual basis and would be invoiced accordingly. It was proposed by Cllr. Allinson, seconded by Cllr. Pearton and agreed by all Members that the Parish Council would adopt the new procedure but would keep an eye on the situation. Cllr. Allinson agreed to inform the Borough Council accordingly. 


To receive a report on the Media and Communications conference.

Cllr. Sparks circulated copies of her report of the conference to all Members but it was agreed to defer discussion of this item until the next Meeting.


Review of HPC Sub Committees.

It was agreed to defer discussion of this item until the next Meeting.


Councillors’ Matters.


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



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

Cllr. Pearton reported that the restoration work to the Clock Tower would be unveiled on 17/3 by the Mayor.



Cllr.Allinson reported that he understood that there were to be changes to the refuse collection arrangements within the village and that information cards were to be sent to every household. He reported that the church pews had been sold at the recent Love Higham Day raising £450.

Cllr. Sparks reported that she had spoken to Eileen James regarding the installation of a memorial seat in memory of Malcolm. She had not wanted to use one of the pews and so the funds realised from the sale of these would be ring fenced towards this project. There would also be fees in the region of £400 payable to the County Council for the siting of the seat in the chosen location and she and Cllr. Allinson would complete the necessary paperwork. Cllr. Sparks confirmed that she would attend the launch of the Volunteer Support Warden scheme the following day.

Cllr. Oakeshott reported that as storage was at a premium in the Memorial Hall a suggestion had been made that the toilets to the car park could be used as an additional storage facility. The Clerk expressed concern that if the building was substantially changed it would need to be revalued and might not attract the current 100% discretionary rate relief. Cllr. Allinson felt that the building could be used without any alterations. The Clerk suggested that consideration should be given to the disabled toilet facility remaining available as it was a separate section of the building.

Cllr. Grey reported that three wooden posts had been knocked down but that this had already been reported to Tony Atherton.    






a.    Planning.

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


Appln. no. 20170019   Wild Acre, 61, Forge Lane

T1 Oak Tree – crown reduction

Appln. no. 20170007   Warwick House, Hermitage Road

Application for a non-material amendment to planning permission reference 20160234 for a reduction in the size of rear extension by the deletion of the single storey element, increases in the sizes of the side extension and the front porch and amendment to the windows on the side elevation and the window and door on the front porch and deletion of a window on the other side elevation

Appln. no. 20161245   Mulberry Rise, Telegraph Hill

Extension to replace existing garage and room above

Appln. no. 20161229   Stables Cottage, Hermitage Road

Retention of a new vehicular access

Appln. no. 20170089   42, School Lane

Erection of single storey rear extension

Appln. no. 20161203   Oastlands, Hermitage Road

Retention of vehicular access and associated hardstanding area

Appln. no. 20170077   Unit 4, Apex Business Park, Queens Farm Road, Shorne

ADJOINS PARISH. Application under Regulation 3 Details pursuant to conditions to planning permission GR/15/1192 – improvement and enhancement to existing waste transfer site by erection of a replacement building to provide covered working area and ancillary site improvements together with retrospective provision for trommel, picking station and wall, (Conditions 5 – Materials, 6 – Archeological Watching Brief, 7 – Contamination Watching Brief, 16 – Lighting, 17 – Dust and Litter Management Plan, 18 – Odour Management Plan, and 20 – Scheme of Permissive Routes and Percentage Flows of HGV’s) at Apex Business Park, Unit 4, Queens Farm Road, Shorne, Gravesend, Kent. DA12  3HU

Appln. no. 20161003   1, Lake Drive.

***REVISED PLAN*** Proposed single storey rear extension, front extension to form entrance porch and two storey side/rear extension

Appln. no. 20170153   The Old Court, Town Road

Erection of an extension to the existing double garage


d.   Community Development Committee.

       The Clerk confirmed to Jo Raff that she had received written confirmation that the funds for the defibrillator had been sent to the Parish Council bank account.


m.   Higham Neighbourhood Forum .

        Peter Leakey reported that the next Meeting would be held in Higham Library on 14/3 when Alan Watson would give more information regarding the new Speedwatch equipment.


n.    Kent Community Warden.

       Steve Gray reported that 4 counts of flytipping had been collected by the Borough Council and 2 litter picks had been requested.   The Community Surgeries held on 28/1and 23/2 had each been attended by 2 Parishioners. Cllr Sue Sparks had attended both meetings. The next would be held on 20/3 at the new time of 13.30 to 15.00 hours.



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.                                                                


Clerks salary (January net)                                                                                       1042.72 HMRC (PAYE/NI  January)                                                                                           194.35

KCC (LGPS January)                                                                                                331.04

Clerks salary (February net)                                                                                      1042.72   

HMRC (PAYE/NI February)                                                                                     194.35

KCC (LGPS February)                                                                                              331.04

British Telecom plc (broadband)                                                                                 158.97

Mr M. Allen (computer upgrade)                                                                                345.91

SSE (electricity for toilets)                                                                                           24.15

EDF Energy (electricity for Pavilion)                                                                          109.21

KALC (Media and Communications conference for Cllr. Sparks)                                  72.00

Higham Memorial Hall (hall hire for Love Higham Day)                                              120.00

Singlewell Stationery and Print Ltd. (2017 Newsletter)                                               1071.00       

Liz Hart (delivery of 2017 Newsletter)                                                                        250.00              



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 adoption of the Rural Conservation Areas supplementary planning document.

2.  Members noted the clearance of part of the Nuralite site to form a hardstanding although no application had been received.


To note the date of the next Parish Council Meetings.

These were given as being Monday, 3rd April 2017, with the 2017 Annual Parish Assembly  taking place on Wednesday, 12th April 2017 at 7.30 p.m.


Any Other Business.

None was brought to the notice of the Meeting.


There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 10.04 p.m.



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