Higham Parish Council

Minutes of the September 2005 Meeting

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Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held at the Memorial Hall, School Lane, on Monday, 12th September 2005 at 7.30 p.m.

Present: Cllr. Mrs J.M.Papadopulos (Chairman)
County Councillor: Cllr. M. Snelling.
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: Mr Jim Wintour, Managing Director of Gravesham Borough Council.
Inspectors Andy Pritchard and Tracey Billanie, WPC Alison Duffort.
Adam Holloway, M.P.
Steve Cross, Kent Community Warden.
86 Parishioners.

Apologies for absence: None were received.

Prior to the commencement of the Meeting, the Chairman introduced Adam Holloway, M.P., who was making his first visit to the Parish Council since being elected as M.P. for Gravesham. Mr Holloway presented awards to the prizewinners of the Higham Gardens for Pleasure Competition 2005.

FIRST PRIZE (Silver Rose Bowl Trophy, Garden Gift Token and framed certificate)
Mr and Mrs R. Tonkinson, 26, The Braes.

SECOND PRIZE (Garden Gift Token and framed certificate)
Ann Bigwood, 72, Forge Lane.

THIRD PRIZE (Garden Gift Token and framed certificate)
Mr and Mrs T. Greenshields, "Courtlands", Crutches Lane.

"HIGHLY COMMENDED" (Framed certificate)
Mr and Mrs J. Thornton, 26, Chilton Drive.
Mr and Mrs T. Foster, 8, Darby Gardens.

"BEST HANGING BASKET AND CONTAINERS" (Garden Gift Token and framed certificate)
Mr and Mrs J. Leach, 32, Telegraph Hill.

The Three Crutches Public House.

Runners Up:-
Sir John Falstaff Public House.
The Chequers Public House.
The Gardeners Arms Public House.
The Stone Horse Public House.

The Chairman welcomed Mr Jim Wintour, Managing Director of Gravesham Borough Council, representatives from Kent Police, and the Kent Community Warden, Steve Cross, and thanked them all for attending the Meeting to discuss the escalation of vandalism to the Recreation Ground area since the implementation of the dispersal orders.

Cllr. Oakeshott reminded those present of the latest incidences of vandalism which had been reported to the police.

Suzanne Green, who runs the StartRite Kindergarten from the Pavilion on the Recreation Ground, outlined details of the 3 break-ins which had occurred over a 13 day period, and in particular the last malicious attack which had rendered the building unusable at the present time. Heavy steel plates had been prised away from the front doors and entry gained to the building from three points. All the equipment, furniture, children's work and the interior of the building had been deliberately covered by paint, PVA glue had been poured over children's clothing, and the building left to flood by taps being left full on and waste pipes removed. A TV/DVD unit had been stolen, whilst a video had been found smashed on the Recreation Ground. A netball post had been used to prise tiles from the roof, guttering had been removed and fascia boarding damaged. The building had been covered in graffiti. Following advice from the Kent Police Crime Prevention Officer, Mrs Green was currently seeking grant aid to install steel doors and roll top fencing to the outside of the building.

Mrs Susan Greenfield, Head Teacher of Higham Primary School, reported that a total of 22 windows at the school had been smashed, door panels kicked in, guttering ripped off and the school buildings had been smothered with graffiti.

Keith Bradley, of the Memorial Hall Management Committee, reported that recent incidences of vandalism had included graffiti to the building, and the replacement of broken windows, the latest of which was classed as anti-vandal and which had been hit with a hammer 8 or 9 times to ensure that it broke.

Cllr. Dougall Goring, on behalf of the Higham Village Sports Association, reported incidences of vandalism to both the changing rooms and the Multi-Purpose Games Area. The changing rooms were now without electricity as the meter box had been vandalised and left in a dangerous state. The meter box for the floodlighting had also been tampered with and paint and margarine had been thrown at the controls. The wire netting to the courts was constantly being damaged and the Sports Association had now run out of money to carry out all the necessary repairs. In a recent incident, two youngsters playing tennis at the Sports Facility had been verbally abused and threatened by youths, who had subsequently taken the door off its hinges and dumped it on the Recreation Ground. Manhole covers to the Recreation Ground had been removed several times and a motorbike had been deliberately driven over the football pitch whilst youngsters were present. Ten bottles of black acrylic paint had been poured down the metal slide unit.

Inspector Pritchard confirmed that it was known that the damage was being caused by just 8 to 9 individuals, most of whom came from the village. Since the implementation of the dispersal orders some 31 people had been moved on and 7 arrests had been made. He defended the implementation of the orders and the decision to exclude the Recreation Ground as the youngsters needed somewhere to legally congregate within the village, and the youth shelter was sited in the vicinity. If the orders were rescinded the youngsters would again continue to congregate on the streets. He appealed to the community for its help in providing information to complete the jigsaw, so that arrests could be made. Any crime should continue to be reported promptly and a crime number obtained. Vigorous policing of the area would continue and he urged residents to be vigilant, work together and not to give up.

Adam Holloway endorsed the need for more Neighbourhood Watch schemes to be set up throughout the village to give the police extra support. Jim Wintour reiterated how well the Police and the Borough Council had worked so far on this issue and urged those present to stick together to achieve a result.

The Chairman then opened the Meeting for comments from those present.

The main points raised included disbelief that despite being arrested 29 times the young lady with the ASBO was still free to roam the village after dark, the anti-social behaviour of teenagers from outside the village in cars and on motorcycles, and concern as to who was supplying youths with alcohol for underage drinking within the village. Parishioners highlighted the lack of respect shown for anybody or anything, and the lack of discipline both at school and at home. However Barrie Howes, who runs the Higham Youth Club, reported that some youngsters felt that they were all being tarred by the same brush and no respect was being shown to them in return. It was agreed that the vast majority of the Higham Youth were well behaved young people who were a credit to their families and the village.
It was further agreed that an information leaflet, for distribution throughout the village, should be prepared in conjunction with the police, Jim Wintour and Adam Holloway.

The Chairman thanked all those present for attending.


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, 4th July 2005, were confirmed and signed.

Matters arising from the Minutes.
The Clerk reported that:-
a. P.754. Matters Arising - bus shelter. The new bus shelter to the A226 had been installed during the summer. The insurance settlement had now been received and KCC had indicated that it would be willing to make a grant of £1700 towards the cost.

b. P. 754. Matters Arising - village signs. At the current time a site meeting with a representative of the Kent Highways Service was awaited. Cllr. Jupp had one of the road signs to display.

c. P. 755. Parish - bus shelter to Lower Higham. Mr Atherton had indicated that there were no available bus shelters for replacement at this location. A new shelter would attract a 50% grant from KCC. It was agreed that the old shelter should be removed.

d. P. 757. Recreation Ground. The drain holes had now been drilled to the Youth Shelter.

Parishioners' Matters.
These had been dealt with earlier in the evening.

Councillors' Matters.
Cllr. Snelling reported that Sandy Bruce Lockhart was to stand down as Leader of the County Council in October, but would continue in his role as a Kent County Councillor and Chairman of the Local Government Association. Parents may soon be able to select a school for their child after the 11+ results were known. Falling school rolls throughout Kent, especially at primary level, may result in amalgamation and closures of some small village schools.

A decision regarding the erection of the new village signs was still awaited.

Cllr. Jupp reported that a new series of Cabinet Road Shows was being scheduled. Each of these Meetings started with a question and answer session where the Members of the Cabinet answered previously submitted questions. It was hoped that Higham might be a future venue.

An independent Tenant Advisor was to be appointed to deal with administration matters relating to the Housing Stock Transfer. All offices of the West Kent Division of the Kent Highway Services had now re-located into Joynes House and could be contacted on 0845 8247800. Eleven friezes depicting the town's heritage and riverside, which were funded by the ODPM, had now been installed on the west wall of the St. Georges Centre in Bath Street., and would be illuminated at night.

Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the licensing application for the Railway Tavern was due to be heard this week. A total of 42 objections had been received from residents of Higham, and as their spokesman, Cllr. Grey was to be allowed 5 minutes to speak at the hearing.

Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the Hunt Range, which operated from Buckland Farm, had requested permission for an extension to its working hours due to an increased demand for its services. This would be from 1.00 pm. until 5.00 pm. on a Saturday and 9.00 a.m. until 5.00 p.m. on a Sunday. No noise would be generated and no extra traffic, as the company specialised in equestrian laundering and had a total of 12 industrial washing machines, and 6 driers on the premises. Members approved the increase in hours subject to no objections being received from local residents. She reported that greenery was obscuring the bus stop at Gads Hill and the footway down School Lane also required clearance. Cllr. Waugh confirmed that she had notified both of these items under the County Lengthsman Scheme, and the work would be carried out in October. Cllr. Oakeshott reported that the Eagles Football Club had asked for permission to site a container, to hold their equipment, on the Recreation Ground in front of the mast. Members gave their approval to this scheme. Members also gave permission for the erection of stanchions in front of the Post Office and shop as a deterrent, following the recent ram raid.

Cllr. Saunders reported that the parking discs for the Controlled Parking Zone were now out of date and the yellow lines required reinstatement in places.

Cllr. Waugh reported that she had identified a source of grant funding to aid improvements to the footpath on the marshes past the old Sun P.H.

Cllr. Hinks reported that the yellow lines to the top of Villa Road were wearing away.

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

Appln. no. 20050556 Mr & Mrs Masterson, 4, Lake Drive.
Erection of single storey front extension to form a porch and w.c.

Appln. no. 20050658 Mr P. Jarvis, 2, Cherry Tree Gardens, Lower Rochester Road.
Erection of single storey side extension to form garage and w.c.; first floor rear extension to form enlarged bedroom and construction of dormer window in the rear roof slope. (PLUS AMENDED DRAWING)

Appln. no. 20050698 Mr & Mrs E. Quigley, "Tresanton", Elm Close.
Erection of two storey side extension on the east elevation to form double garage, utility room, w.c. and dining room with two bedrooms, two ensuite w.c./shower rooms and a balcony with external staircase at first floor level; erection of two storey front extension to form hallway and erection of a front canopy linking both the proposed extensions and alterations to the main roof.

c. Memorial Hall.
Cllr. Goring reported that he was "tickled pink" to announce that the Memorial Hall had secured a Big Lottery Grant of £117,685.

d. Multi-Purpose Games Area.
Cllr. Goring reported that the Sports Association had decided not to reconnect the electricity to the Changing Rooms at the present time due to lack of funds. There would also be no repairs to the floodlighting at the current time. Due to the recent incident on the courts it had been decided that keys would be handed out to adults only. This meant that parents would have to sign out the keys for their children.

e. Recreation Ground
Cllr. Wright reported that quotations received for repairs to the Recreation Ground fencing were in the region of £1000. It was agreed that the work would not proceed at the present time.

The Clerk asked for approval for the items shown on the agenda, this being proposed by Cllr. Jupp, seconded by Cllr. James and agreed by all Members.

British Telecommunications plc (broadband) 113.02
Mrs P.Oakeshott (refreshments-Local Board Meeting-Sect 137/139) 82.00
Queensbury Shelters (bus shelter) 4032.60
Zurich Insurance Company (Pavilion insurance) 641.13
Audit Commission (audit fees 2005) 293.75
KenBer Cleaning Services (vandalism at Pavilion) 211.50
Clive Stanley (webmaster services - 1/6/05 - 31/8/05) 132.00

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. Approval had been given to a request from BT to make the Memorial Hall car park payphone a cashless facillty.
2. Members noted the completion of the Annual Audit.
3. Permission was granted for the Eagles F.C. to use the Recreation Ground for the forthcoming season, and to level and re-seed the goalmouths.
4. Members noted the resignation of Steve Enright, Kent Community Warden.

To note the date of the next Parish Council Meeting.
This was given as being Monday, 3rd October 2005 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 10.35 p.m.


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