Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the July 2005 Meeting

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Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Monday, 4th July 2005 at 7.30 p.m.

Present: Cllr. Mrs J.M.Papadopulos (Chairman)
Councillors:- J.D.Goring, J.A.Grey, Mrs J.Hinks, A.L.Howard, M.L.James, C.L.Jupp (also Borough), Mrs P.Oakeshott (also
Borough), Mrs S. Saunders, Mrs A. Waugh, and S.Wright.

In attendance: Chief Inspector Jane Newall, Sgt. Peter Smith, WPC Alison Duffort, Andrea Spittal (Housing Officer - Hyde Housing)
and Rey Aziz (Community Safety Team - Gravesham).

11 Parishioners.

Apologies for absence: Received from County Councillor M. Snelling

The Chairman welcomed representatives from the Police, Hyde Housing Association and Gravesham Community Safety Team to the Meeting.

Current issues affecting the quality of life in the village.

Chief Inspector Jane Newall thanked the Parish Council for passing on the concerns of residents of Mountbatten Avenue who were currently experiencing the effects of anti-social behaviour. She explained that analysis of the behaviour of the youths over the past twelve months had shown that the most frequent problems were relating to vehicle nuisance, loutish behaviour and hoax telephone calls. She praised the work already carried out by Alison Duffort who had engaged with the youth of the village and had successfully secured funds for a pool table and youth shelter. Sgt. Smith reported that recent problems to the Steadman Close and Dombey Close areas had now alleviated considerably and now Mountbatten Avenue was being targeted with extra patrols and surveillance. He reported that, following the gathering of evidence over an eight month period, the Courts had now granted an ASBO (anti social behaviour order) against Teresa Edwards which prohibited her from both drinking and being drunk around the village and swearing at people, and which would be valid for a period of two years. A breach of these conditions would lead to arrest, a court appearance and either a fine, custodial sentence or both. Chief Inspector Newall reported that the Police were currently applying for a dispersal order for the village and this would allow them to disperse any group of two or more individuals likely to cause alarm or distress. The only area which would not be covered by this order would be the Recreation Ground, which was where the new youth shelter was situated. She also reassured residents that she was currently in contact with BT regarding the removal of the telephone box at Mountbatten Avenue which was priority. In answer to questions from Parishioners she explained that the granting of a dispersal order for the village should speed up the call out times to future incidents, and she acknowledged the assistance provided by the Gravesham Community Safety Team.

The Police Officers, Housing Officer for Hyde Housing and representative of the Gravesham Community Safety Team then retired to the Main Hall with local residents to learn further details of their individual concerns.

The Chairman thanked all those present for attending the Meeting.

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

The Minutes of the Annual Parish Council Meeting followed by a Parish Council Meeting, held on Monday, 9th May 2005, were confirmed and signed.

Matters arising from the Minutes.
The Clerk reported that:-

a. P.749 Matters Arising - Bus Shelter. Queensbury Shelters had indicated that they hoped to install the new bus shelter on 15/7.

b. P.749 Matters Arising - Hits to the Web Site. Clive Stanley had confirmed that an additional 1195 hits to the web site had been received in June (total hits to date now being 14,641) He had provided a breakdown of how he expected his time as webmaster to be spent over the forthcoming year.

c. P. 749. Matters Arising - Village Signs. All paperwork relating to this issue had now been passed to Cllr. Snelling to pursue with the County Council on our behalf. A decision was awaited at the present time. It appeared that there had been some confusion regarding the material used in the construction of the signs, which had led the KCC insurers to decline cover for them.

d. P. 750 Parish. Cleaner Higham Campaign. Cllr. Goring reported that the turn out for this event organised by Steve Enright on 4/6 had been very poor due to inadequate publicity being displayed around the village. Members had understood that this was to be a Youth Club initiative but in the event no members had been present except for Barrie Howes.  Several children from Higham School had joined Steve and his family for the day and a sausage and chip lunch had been provided by the Parish Council. Cllr. Goring had personally thanked all those who had attended during the lunch break.

5. P. 751 Recreation Ground. The crime number for the car driven on to the Recreation Ground had been obtained and our insurers had confirmed that we were covered for impact damage to the fencing. Cllr. Wright reported that he would be meeting fencing contractors on site later in the week, but recommended that a claim was not pursued as the hole was so large that it was unlikely to have been caused by just the car.

Cllr. Goring reported that the locking gate had now been installed to the entrance of the Larkin Memorial Ground in The Larches (p.750 of the Minutes refers).

Parishioners Matters.
Mr Pearton, of Chalk Road, reported a problem with sight lines to the road caused by cars parking outside Haselden Cottages. It was agreed that residents would be notified. He also drew Members' attention to a new Event Notification Form which had been produced by Kent Highways which meant that any event at Higham School which would cause any activity on School Lane, would need to be notified 8 weeks before the event. Cllr. James agreed to raise this item with the Governing Body.
Mr Taylor, of Martins Close, reported a pot hole to Villa Road adjacent to the Higham Library car park.

To finalise arrangements for the 2005 Higham Gardens for Pleasure Competition.
The Chairman reported that judging by Morton Grey would take place in mid-July. She reminded Members to return entries for the short list to her by 13/7 at the latest.

Update on the clearance of the allotment plots.
The Clerk reported that Daniel Annal had cleared a total of 9 vacant allotment plots since the last Meting, all of which had been earmarked by prospective tenants. Members approved this expenditure of £450, which had exceeded the budgeted costs for allotment clearance because of the unprecedented demand. One new tenant also wished to take on the plot which had been classified as "unworkable" and it had been offered to him at the reduced price of £3 per annum. Unfortunately some raspberry canes had been destroyed from an already tenanted plot during the clearance works and Members agreed to waive the allotment rent on this plot for the current year and to give garden tokens to the value of £10 so that the canes could be replaced, this expenditure being approved under Sections 137 and 139 of the Local Government Act 1972. Reports had been received of children playing football at the allotment gardens and it was agreed that the wording of the allotment agreement should include a clause reminding new tenants that the plots were for cultivational purposes and not recreational. There had been a number of break-ins to sheds at the allotments with tools being stolen, and some allotment users were driving vehicles down the allotment gardens at fast speed, in one instance causing damage to a rear garden fence. Cllr. Howard spoke of the problem of finding a way to mark the boundaries of each plot when they did not appear to be of uniform size according to the allotment plot plan.

Commencement of building works at Isis Court - Rural Housing Initiative.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that this housing project was formally launched on 14/6 when representatives from Gravesham Borough Council, Hyde Housing Association, Sherwood Projects and Action with Rural Communities in Kent met with representatives of Higham Parish Council on the site which had been cleared and piling foundations and necessary groundwork completed. The building works would commence on 20/6 and were expected to be completed by early in 2006. The three, two storey, two bedroomed houses would become homes for local Higham residents at affordable rents. Photographs of the launch were now featured on the Parish Council website.

Councillors Matters.
As Cllr. Snelling was unable to attend the Meeting he submitted a written report which forms an addendum to these Minutes.

Cllr. Jupp reported that the Borough Council had voted in favour of the transfer of its housing stock to a Housing Association, and a final decision now rested with the tenants/leaseholders. Cllr. Grey expressed concern at this decision following the recent problems at Mountbatten Avenue.
Cllr. Oakeshott reported that she had received a request for dropped kerbs for the use of mothers with buggies etc. at Steadman Close, and wanted an indication of support for this proposal. Cllr. James agreed to investigate the take-up of this idea from the School's point of view. She had also received complaints regarding the condition of the path from Steadman Close to the old Alexander Cottages and asked if this could be included on the list for the Lengthsman Scheme. The residents of nos. 2,4,6 and 8 St John's Road intended to write to the Working Mens Club to complain regarding its 15 foot high hedge which ran along the back of their gardens and which needed lowering. It was agreed that the Parish Council would write in support of this request. Members agreed to a proposal from the Borough Council to replace an elderly chain link fence to the end of Lake Drive with a new wooden one. Members noted a copy of a letter sent to the new Highways Manager at the County Council from Rev'd David Barnes requesting re-surfacing works to be carried out to School Lane. They also agreed to support a request by Gad's Hill School for zig-zag lines to be installed to the top of Gad's Hill to encourage parents to use the School car park when dropping off pupils for school.

Cllr. Goring reported that the hedge to the Recreation Ground had grown considerably since it was last trimmed, but that Mr Raccine did not wish any action taken at the present time as it was a good windbreak.
Cllr. Saunders reported an increase in the amount of graffiti to Lower Higham and Cllr. Oakeshott agreed to raise the matter with Gravesham Services. It was agreed to ask Tony Atherton regarding a possible replacement for the old bus shelter at Lower Higham before a decision was taken regarding its removal.
Cllr. Grey again raised the much needed improvements to the traffic calming scheme in School Lane.
Cllr. Hinks asked that the replacement road sign for Chilton Drive be chased with the Borough Council.
Cllr. Howard reported a suspicious fire to the rear of his garden which could have spread to vehicles nearby.
Cllr. Waugh reported a problem with the implementation of the funding for the Parish Lengthman scheme from the County Council. Some works she had notified had never been carried out, and would now be completed through the normal highways budget. She reported problems to the pavements in the slip road alongside Gads Hill and agreed to include these on this scheme.
Cllr. Wright reminded Councillors of the proposed site visit to Onslow's Yard on 6/7 and suggested that all Members should keep an open mind.
Cllr. Jupp reported that WPC Duffort had been successful in asking for a car parked to the pavement in Colewood Drive to be removed.
Cllr. James reported that the 30mph road sign to the first bend of Crutches Lane was now laying flat on the verge. Items of rubbish (including tyres) by Great Crabbles Wood and Warnetts Barn in Crutches Lane required removal. The hedge to the Three Crutches P.H. was badly overgrown and obscuring road signs. There were now a large number of potholes to the whole length of Crutches Lane which required urgent attention, and the "give way" road markings to the junction of the lane with Old Watling Street required reinstatement.


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

Appln. no. 20050356 Mr & Mrs B. White, Mulberry Rise, Telegraph Hill.
Construction of roof extension to form a barn hip end on the east elevation; construction of dormer extension in south roof slope and conversion of roof space into a bedroom and en-suite bathroom/w.c.

Appln. no. 20050358 Ian and Claire Bennett, Hook Cottage, 76, Hermitage Road.
Erection of single storey side extension to form enlarged lounge, enlarged kitchen, w.c. and store.

Appln. no. 20050368 T. Kelly, North Plot, 24, Telegraph Hill.
Erection of a detached two/three storey dwelling with integral double garage.

Appln. no. 20050367 L.Woollends, South Plot, 24, Telegraph Hill.
Erection of detached two/three storey dwelling with two integral garages.

Appln. no. 20050397 Mr & Mrs Arnold, 2, Highwood Close,
Erection to front extension to form enlarged lounge and single storey side extension incorporating a dormer extension in the proposed rear roof slope to form hall, shower room/w.c. and utility room with bedroom and bathroom in the proposed roof space.

Appln. no. 20050419 Mr & Mrs K.D.White, 15, School Lane.
Erection of single storey side extension to form a w.c.

Appln. no. 20050483 Mr P.R.Rutherford, Stables rear of "Hilary Cottage", Hermitage Road.
Installation of a room at mezzanine floor level to provide a rest room for overnight horse husbandry accommodation.

Appln. no. 20050444 Gads Hill School, Gravesend Road.
Application for renewal of temporary planning permission reference number GR/2002/366 for the siting of a temporary classroom.

c. Memorial Hall.
Cllr. Goring reported that the application for a grant for £117,685 from the Big Lottery Fund had now been submitted. The Hall Committee was doubtful if it would be considered as certain criteria areas (e.g. would it produce additional employment to the area?) could not be met. A Meeting at Lenham had been arranged to aid the completion of the forms for the new Licensing Laws.

d. Multi-Purpose Games Area.
Cllr. Goring reported that there was no floodlighting at the present time and the fencing had been holed again and repaired.

e Recreation Ground.
Cllr. Goring reported that drain holes still needed to be drilled to the seating of the Youth Shelter. Graffiti had been daubed on the new picnic tables. The missing head to the spring duck had been screwed back on and problems to the swings repaired. The safety surfacing under the swings was torn. The dog waste bin had been set alight and destroyed.

h. Governors of Higham School.
Cllr. James reported that the Acting Deputy Head Teacher, Catherine Grattan, had been appointed to this post from September. The School was hoping to receive a Transitional Grant to balance the budget which was currently overspent by some £16,000 for the current financial year. The state of dilapidation of the school premises (particularly the old building) was causing great concern with major items such a some windows, gutters and downpipes and toilet flooring all requiring urgent replacement. The car park was also inadequate for the needs of the school.

i. Merston Court.
The Chairman reported that a presentation of a "Worthy Citizen" award by the Rotary Club was made to Dot Figg in recognition of her 25 years service to Merston Court.

k. Chalk Liaison Group.
Cllr. Goring reported that Steve Enright had reported on various incidents that he had dealt with in both Higham and Chalk. The date of the next Meeting was to be 7/9.

The Clerk presented the quarterly financial statement for the period 1/4/05 to 30/6/05. She asked for approval for the items shown on the agenda plus the sum of £643.75 for administration expenses for the period 1/4/05 to 30/6/05, and £10.00 for garden gift tokens to replace destroyed raspberry canes (under Sect. 137/139), this being proposed by Cllr. Oakeshott, seconded by Cllr. James and agreed by all Members.

Village Fryers (sausage and chip lunch - Sect. 137/139)   32.80
Mr D. Annal (allotment clearance)                                300.00
Mr D .Annal (allotment clearance)                                150.00
Mr D. Annal (petrol costs)                                             10.00
The Millbrook Garden Company (Garden Gift Tokens)      60.00
Southern Water (allotments)                                          19.02
Clive Stanley (webmaster services)                                180.00
Clerk's salary (1/4/05 - 30/6/05 - new rate)                  1209.00
Expenses - use of room as office (1/4/05 - 30/6/05)        227.50

The following proposal was recorded in the minutes:-
"This Council in accordance with its powers under Sections 137 and 139 of the Local Government Act 1972, should incur an expenditure of £60 for garden gift tokens from the Millbrook Garden Company, which is in the opinion of the Council in the interest of the area or its inhabitants".

The correspondence folder had been available for perusal by all Members from 7.00 p.m. that evening, but the Clerk drew Members' attention to the following items:-

1. Cllr. Waugh agreed to be the co-ordinator for the County Lengthsman Scheme.
2. The next Local Board Meeting would be held at the Memorial Hall on 20/7 with the topics for discussion being rural transport and local funding.
3. Agenda items for the Parish Chairs Meeting on 27/7 would be the siting of the new village signs, repair of damage to Lower Rochester Road caused by the replacement bus service, and the large number of potholes to village roads.

To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.
This was given as being Monday, 12th September 2005 at 7.30 p.m.

Any Other Business.
It was agreed to invite Mr Norman Bateman, West Kent Divisional Manager for Kent Highway Services, to the October Meeting to discuss the changes to the Highways Service provided.

There being no other business, the Meeting closed at 10.20 p.m.


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