A NEW YEAR MESSAGE from your Borough Councillor, Leslie Pearton

2020 – well what a year! Certainly 2020 has been a very challenging year! Covid brought lockdown in March which, for some, brought heartbreak, suffering and difficult times. But the tremendous community spirit from the people of Higham brought assistance, help and support.
The summer brought respite for many and a near to normal life. However, the dreaded second spike started to emerge from October and by the end of December the numbers of the community succumbing to the new variant increased rapidly as it swathed through the south east as a whole.
Once again, I would like to thank all those ‘heroes’, such as NHS staff, Care Workers, Police, Fire & Rescue, Prison Officers, School Teachers and Staff, Volunteers and all the Essential Business Workers
I would also like to reach out to those whose businesses have suffered or those who have not been so lucky and have suffered deeply.
We have had to learn a new way of life with masks, public hand sanitising and social distancing and new ways of carrying out our business and employment.
From a Parish point of view, we have been and still are being tested to the limit. We have seen successes this year such as the wonderful new play equipment installed on the Recreation Ground and assisting with the re-vamp of the Sports Courts. But, we must not forget the battle with the Lower Thames Crossing for the best interest of the village. Nor, the blight we are under with the threat of losing our green belt, which our neighbours living in Medway are succumbing to. 31st January was the last day to submit your views on the Gravesham Local Plan and the Parish Clerk was inundated with response letters which she collated and submitted to the Borough Council on your behalf. Hopefully, many of you also responded online.
Sadly, this brings me to another fight – to stop the Nuralite Development! So much work has been done behind the scenes by the residents most affected, the Parish Council and our Clerk in bombarding the Borough, County Councils, our local MP and Government Departments. This development, if permitted, WILL AFFECT the village as a whole, along with ALL ROUTES in and out of the village – not just for now or the next three years but for a long time in the future.
This has been a very, very busy period but we WILL fight these issues and will continue to FIGHT to keep our VILLAGE as a VILLAGE.
One thing I do know is the resilience and camaraderie that this village has and the ability to come together when needed. However, I will not finish on a negative note! I wish all the people of Higham and their families a better 2021 than 2020. 2021 may be difficult to start with now going into a second lockdown; Covid may not let up straight away and also Brexit will bring many challenges – BUT let us remain positive as a village community and work together to keep everyone well and safe from suffering as much as is possible.
I care about this village greatly and wish the people of Higham, whom I serve, hopefully a better and more prosperous New Year and thank you all in this difficult time.
Keep well – keep safe!
Your Borough Councillor
Leslie Pearton

**FOR INFO – Kent’s first Bee-friendly Bus Stop will ‘bee’ in Higham**

Over the last several months, Higham Parish Council has been working alongside Kent County Council (KCC) to jointly deliver a scheme on the main bus route in Higham on Gravesend Road at the Forge Lane Bus stop (Medway bound). Through the village precept, Higham Parish Council and the residents of Higham, funded 50% of this landmark project for Kent. The remainder was funded by grant donations from KCC.

The existing tired-looking shelter (see below) is to be replaced with a new one and work has started already. As well as providing bus users somewhere to sit and shelter form the elements, the roof of the shelter will be covered with sedum and wildflower that can attract bees and other species of pollinators to help with the plight of pollinators across the country.

The bus shelter plans form part of a KCC’s Plan Bee action plan which is actively seeking to reverse the “serious” decline of pollinators in the UK, including bees, moths and butterflies.

As you can see, work started at the end of November and is almost complete…

The Parish Council can’t wait for the new shelter to come into operation where it will not only benefit our parishioners, but also benefit important pollinators too.

Thank you for your continued support.

Higham Parish Council

**UPDATE** FOR INFO: Review of The Highway Code to improve road safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders

The Department of Transport recently opened a consultation seeking the UK’s views on proposed changes to The Highway Code to improve safety for vulnerable road users, particularly the groups of:

  • cyclists
  • pedestrians
  • horse riders

The main alterations to the code that were being proposed were:

  • introducing a hierarchy of road users which ensures that those road users who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others
  • clarifying existing rules on pedestrian priority on pavements, to advise that drivers and riders should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross the road,
  • providing guidance on cyclist priority at junctions to advise drivers to give priority to cyclists at junctions when travelling straight ahead
  • establishing guidance on safe passing distances and speeds when overtaking cyclists and horse riders

Higham Parish Council urged parishioners to have their say in this consultation as cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders are well represented in the area and particularly as the activities mentioned are very popular in and around our village.

The consultation closed at

The Government are now in the process of analysing national feedback. Visit the Gov.uk page below again soon to download the outcome to this public feedback.

Gov.uk - Review of The Highway Code to improve road safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders

Higham Parish Council

**FOR INFO** New village playground opened by the Mayor of Gravesham

Higham Parish Council are pleased to announce that the long-awaited new children’s play area situated on the recreation ground is now complete and open for use.

The Mayor of Gravesham, Councillor John Caller, Councillor Bryan Sweetland (Kent County Council), Gravesham Borough and Higham Parish Council Councillors Harold Craske and Les Pearton, Higham Parish Council Chair, Councillor John Grey and Vice-Chair, Councillor Amanda Mendzil officially opened the play area on Tuesday, 3rd November 2020 in a low-key and socially-distanced ceremony.

The old play area was tired and uninviting, but following discussions at Parish Council meetings it was agreed to put plans in place to bring it up to date and make it more attractive. Vice Chair, Councillor Amanda Mendzil, took on the challenge with full support from the Parish Council and began the task of looking into designs, costings and for financial assistance to make the project happen.

The Parish Council considered that some of the new equipment should be accessible and this has been accomplished in the piece of equipment chosen.

To assist in the financing of the project, Higham Parish Council made several grant applications to several national bodies and were delighted to receive financial support from the National Lottery, Kent County Council, Gravesham Borough Council and from donations from local groups, including Higham Quilters along with funds from the Parish Council.

Whilst the lockdown situation caused a delay to starting the work, once restrictions were eased the work began straight away and was quickly and efficiently carried out by Playground Projects Ltd, the Parish Council’s contractor for this project.

Higham Parish Council would like to make special mention to local residents Sylvia Rolfe, Jeegna Patel Jones and Emma Aldous together with many others in the village who generously gave their time, ideas and donations towards the completion of the play area, which is now being enjoyed by children in the village and beyond!

Please see below for a selection of photographs from the opening.

Higham Parish Council

Kent County Council Draft 5 Year Plan published

Do you want to help shape the future of life in Kent? Do you want your views to be heard by the County Council? If yes, then we would recommend reading Kent County Council’s (KCC) ‘Draft 5 Year Plan’

Over the past 5 months KCC have been listening to:

  • Kent residents
  • young people
  • businesses
  • voluntary and community sector organisations
  • our staff
  • our partners across public services.

They have heard about what is important to quality of life in Kent and what people’s priorities are. Based on what they have heard, they developed the draft 5 year plan. The plan shapes what KCC will do and what they will prioritise spending money on over the next 5 years.

This document is available online for you to read and respond to (it can also be downloaded if you are unable to respond online). We recommend reading the plan before you complete and submit your response. Hurry though as the consultation closes on the 17th February 2020.

Please follow this link to the Kent County Council ‘Draft 5 Year Plan’ page:

Draft 5 Year Plan - Kent County Council

The Parish Council