Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the February 2005 Meeting

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Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Monday, 21st February 2005 at 7.30 p.m.

Present: Cllr. Mrs J.M.Papadopulos (Chairman)
County Councillor:- Cllr. F.Gibson, O.B.E.
Councillors: J.D.Goring, J.A.Grey, Mrs J.Hinks, A.L.Howard,
C.L.Jupp (also Borough), Mrs P.Oakeshott (also Borough), Mrs A.Waugh and S.Wright.

In attendance: Mr A. Taylor and 2 Parishioners.


Apologies for absence: Received from Cllr. Saunders and Steve Enright.

The Chairman accepted apologies for absence.
There were no alterations to the Register of Members Interests.

The Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting, held on Monday, 10th January 2005, were confirmed and signed.

Matters arising from the Minutes.


The Clerk reported that:-

a. P. 731 Matters Arising. Tree outside Alexander Cottages. All Members had been sent a copy of a letter received from Jenny Wallace. The Wallace Family had generously offered to pay the costs of trimming the tree, liaising closely with the Borough Council, and local
residents. The Clerk read from her letter, and also reminded Members that the tree was planted during plant-a-tree-week in 1984, and had been donated by Bayliss Garden Centres. It was under this tree that the plaque commemorating Jonathan's life and work
had been placed. It was understood that Mr Mead had made contact with a tree surgeon and would keep the Parish Council informed.

b. P. 732 Lighting levels within the Parish. The Chairman reported on the Meeting of Parish Chairmen where this item had been included on the agenda. Mr Easterbrook had replied directly to Mr Mead, but a copy of his response had been sent to each Member of the  Parish Council. The Borough Council had confirmed that the cost of replacing all the street lighting in Higham to reduce light pollution was not sustainable.

c. P. 733 Borough. Bus shelter. The long-awaited quotation for the cost of the replacement shelter had now been received from the Borough Council, and had already been forwarded to the Parish Council's insurer for its urgent attention.

d. P. 733 Parish. Clive Stanley had reported that the total number of hits for the website had now risen to 9242 (an extra 781 in this month).

The Clerk reported that Terry Morris had confirmed that the repairs to the Dickens sign artwork and wrought iron surround would cost £260 plus VAT. The replacement post with a concreted sleeve in the ground to a depth of three feet, would be £730 plus VAT for metal and £790 plus VAT for oak. After discussion, Members agreed to recommend the metal post. Cllr. Waugh commented that it was vital that the sign be restored, as every local village had a sign of some sort.

The Clerk reported that approval for the new village signs still needed to be obtained for two of the locations. It was suggested that contact be made with KAPC to help with the wording of the appropriate paperwork to be given to the residents concerned.

Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the Borough Council was only obliged to take new drainage to the nearest main drain (P. 731 of the Minutes refers).

Parishioners Matters.
Barrie Howes thanked the Parish Council for meeting the cost of the hire of the Memorial Hall for the Youth Club sleepover. He also thanked the Hall Committee for offering this at a very reduced rate. The Members of the Youth Club (14 in total) had decided to spend a sponsored 24 hours in sleeping bags to raise funds for the NSPCC. A local bank had offered to double whatever funds they raised. The village greengrocer had kindly agreed to provide supplies of fresh fruit for the sleepover.

The Chairman mentioned the initiative for graffiti cleaning within the village in conjunction with the Community Warden. It was agreed that the Parish Council would provide a fish and chip supper for any youngster who agreed to join the working party, by way of an incentive.

Mr A. Taylor, of Martins Close, reported that he had written to the Borough Council regarding subsidence at the bottom of Martins Close, and cracks to the road surfacing.

To evaluate the success of the Special Meeting held on Monday, 7th February 2005.
A copy of a report of the Special Meeting had been circulated to Members prior to the Parish Council Meeting. Members were in agreement that the Meeting had been worthwhile as it had shown Parishioners that the Parish Council cared about local issues. They, however, expressed their concern that no representatives from South Eastern Trains Ltd. Head Office had found time to attend the Meeting as requested. The Clerk had circulated copies of a letter to be sent to Michael Holden, Managing Director of South Eastern Trains Ltd., for approval.

Parish Newsletter 2005 and Annual Parish Assembly.
The Clerk reported that quotations, based on the size of last year's newsletter, had been received from three companies. D and A had quoted £1236.58, Spectra Press Ltd. £1232.00 and BHF £896.50 (all prices subject to VAT). As Members had been pleased with the production of the 2004 newsletter, they decided to award the contract again to Spectra. The Newsletter Committe would meet later in the week to edit the copy material. The front cover would feature a photograph of one of the new village signs, and the Scouts were willing to deliver the newsletters to the centre of the village. Members agreed a grant of £50 under Sections 137 and 139 of the Local Government Act 1972 for this purpose.

Lesley Topping had agreed to provide the food for the Annual Parish Assembly for a cost of £175, and Bob Ogley would speak on "Doodlebugs and Rockets", to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the second World War, for the sum of £50 (inclusive of travel costs)

Members were in agreement that both of these costs should be met under Section 150 (2) of the Local Government Act 1972.

First meeting of Chalk Liaison Group.
The Clerk had circulated copies of the minutes of the inaugural Meeting of this Group, to Members prior to the Meeting. Cllrs. Goring and Hinks had both attended the Meeting. They reported that Steve Enright would be shared with Chalk from 1/3/05. He would need to be flexible, and to prioritise his workload, moving between the two areas as the need dictated. Steve would continue to be based at Higham Library and messages could be left for him there or on his mobile phone. The situation would be closely monitored with monthly meetings between the Parish Council members and Chalk residents, and any problems would be reported to Alan Maitland if they arose. Parishioners would be informed of the new arrangements by way of an article in the Parish Newsletter.

Councillors Matters.
County.

Cllr. Gibson reported that the Council Tax increase for Kent County Council would be 3.7%.


Although the government grant to the county had increased by £41 million, it came with a strict instruction that £32.4 million had to go straight to schools. This left only a 1.3% increase for all other services and £32 million savings had had to be identified to keep the Council Tax increase to this level. Had the Government used the 2001 Census information, showing the increased number of young and elderly people in the county, Council Tax could have been cut by a further 2% with the extra money that would have been paid. Cllr. Gibson confirmed that there would be £120 million to spend on new road works for this year only. He confirmed that a licence for civil marriages had been granted to Little Hermitage, and planning consent had been given for the new Visitors' Centre at Shorne Wood Country Park. He reminded Members of the Information Meeting to be held at the Civic Centre the following evening regarding the SEERA proposals for the South East Plan. A recent seminar on the Government Paper regarding travellers had emphasised the need to consider urban as well as rural sites.

Borough.

As Cllr. Jupp had just returned from holiday, Cllr. Oakeshott reported that a total of 12 residents from Higham had attended the recent Older People's Forum organised by the Borough Council. The new Managing Director of the Borough Council had asked to be taken on a tour of Higham, and this would be arranged within the next couple of weeks.

Parish.

Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the street light to the corner opposite the surgery was not lit, and she had received complaints regarding the condition of pavements to School Lane. In answer to a question from Cllr. Grey, she confirmed that improvement works to School Lane had been budgeted for in the new financial year from 1/4/05.

On behalf of Cllr. Saunders, Cllr. Grey reported that a road sign had been deposited in the trees to Steadman Close.

Cllr. James reported that one of the lights to the underpass in Crutches Lane was unlit.

Cllr. Waugh asked Members if they felt that any of the work under the Parish Lengthsman Scheme had been completed. She agreed to speak to Mr Able to check the situation before submitting the next set of work forms.

Cllr. Hinks showed Members a photograph of the proposed Youth Shelter to the Recreation Ground.

The Clerk reported a complaint from a Parishioner regarding dog fouling problems to School Lane, which had been passed to both the Borough Council and the Community Warden.


REFRESHMENT BREAK


Reports
a. Planning.

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

Appln. no. 20050016 Mr R. Body, 2, Ash Crescent.
Erection of part two storey and part first floor side extension to form an enlarged bedroom at ground floor level with bedroom and enlarged bedroom at first floor level.

Appln. no. 20050015 Mr J. Blake, "Cobdene", Gravesend Road.
Erection of two storey rear extension to form a kitchen/diner and w.c. at ground floor level with bedroom and bathroom at first floor level.

Appln. no. 20050021 Mrs A. Matthews, 27, Hermitage Road.
Erection of single storey rear and front extensions to form an enlarged kitchen, conservatory, porch and w.c.; construction of dormer window in rear roof slope and conversion of roof space into a sitting room/study.

Appln. no. 20050028 Mr and Mrs D. Manwaring, 24, High View.
Construction of two dormer windows in front (south) roof slope to replace existing dormer window and an additional dormer window in proposed side (east) roof slope, in substitution to that previously permitted under planning permission reference number GR/2004/746.

Appln. no. 20050038 Mr R. Gentry, 18, Charles Dickens Avenue.
Erection of part two storey and part first floor extension on south elevation to form an enlarged living room at ground floor level with a bedroom at first floor level.

Appln. no 20050099 Ms. C. Parfitt, 63, Oak Drive.
Erection of single storey front extension to form enlarged lounge.

Appln. no. 20050115 Mr P.Luderman, "Quantock", Dillywood Lane.
Erection of single storey rear extension to form a dining room.

Cllr. Oakeshott reported that she had received a telephone call from a Town Planning Consultant regarding the possible utilisation of the land behind the station car park for the provision of social housing. After discussion amongst Members it was agreed that this initiative would improve the site, and additionally would provide landscaping and car parking. Members cautiously welcomed the initiative, subject to the proposal coming back to the Parish Council for further discussion at a future date, but requested that terraced housing units might be considered as this would restrict the size of the development to a minimum.

c. Memorial Hall.

Cllr. Goring reported that the Hall Committee had put in an application to the National Lottery for a grant of £130,800 to refurbish the building. Planned improvements included new windows, floor, car park, toilets (including disabled facilities) and a loop system. The Hall Committee was required to put a total of £10,000 toward the project. A helicopter club now met at the Hall on a Sunday.

d. Multi-Purpose Games Area.

Cllr. Goring reported that the Sports Association had now arranged for the surfacing to be jet washed, and the tennis court posts to be reseated for the cost of £1900.

e. Recreation Ground.

Cllr. Goring reported on a site meeting held at the Recreation Ground with Mr Dixon, of  George Webb, agents for St. John's College, Cambridge. No objection had been raised to the site for the proposed youth shelter, but if the tenancy of the Recreation Ground were   to cease this structure would have to be removed by the Parish Council. Both parties  checked the position of relative landholdings and this arrangement would be formalised  in writing in time to comply with the Land Registration requirements before 2008.

Cllr. Goring reported problems with blocked waste pipes to the Pavilion, which did not have the necessary manhole covers on them. This matter had highlighted an issue with  the invoicing of the water supply to the building which was being dealt with.

Finance.


The Clerk read from an e-mail received from the Higham and Mockbeggar Cricket Club giving details of sponsorship now secured for the Cricketforce weekend. Members unanimously agreed to award a grant of £200 to the club under Sections 137 and 139 of the Local Government Act 1972, to aid the improvements to the pavilion. The Clerk reported that a donation of £1000 towards a village project, had been received from the Strood Rotary Club. She asked for approval for the items shown on the agenda, this being proposed by Cllr. Oakeshott, seconded by Cllr. James, and agreed by all Members.

Kent County Council (Barrie Howes salary - April 2004 to March 2005) 1224.55
Higham Youth Club (hire of Memorial Hall - sleep over) 30.00
The City of Rochester Pipe Band (Sect. 137/139 grant re. Mr Burt) 25.00
British Telecommunications plc (broadband/fax) 113.42

Correspondence.

The Clerk reported that following a review of current procedures adopted for the management of the correspondence received by the Parish Council, and consultation with Meopham Parish Council to discuss how they managed this paperwork, the correspondence file would now only contain documents where a response was required from the Parish Council. Routine items and promotional material would be filed in date order in a separate folder which would be available on request. Sensitive letters, including those from Parishioners, would be photocopied and sent to each Member with the papers for the Meeting. Members approved the format of the new acknowledgement card. The correspondence file would be available for inspection by Members from 7.00 p.m. on the evening of the Meeting, and the Clerk would continue to flag the items, which she would raise during the Meeting, by way of a fluorescent sticker.

Although the correspondence folder had been viewed by Members, the Clerk drew their attention to the following items:-

1. Members noted the receipt of the SEERA South East Plan and the Information Evening to be held at the Civic Centre on 22/2/05.

2. Help was requested by the Borough Council to identify the ownership of land around Church Street with overhanging vegetation. The names of several local Parishioners who might be able to provide help were noted.

To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.

This was given as being Monday, 4th April 2005 at 7.30 p.m.

Any Other Business.

The Clerk reported that a Medway Parish Council had been inundated with requests for allotment plots when they advertised in a local newspaper that some were available.

The Chairman closed the Meeting to the public at 9.33 p.m. when it was resolved that:-
"Pursuant to Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 that the Public now be excluded from the Meeting because it was likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted that if Members of the Public were present there would be disclosure to them of
exempt information as defined in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act".

 

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