HEVER PARISH COUNCIL
THE MINUTES OF A MEETING OF HEVER PARISH COUNCIL HELD AT
FOUR ELMS PARISH ROOMS,
ON MONDAY 12TH NOVEMBER 2012 AT 7.30PM
Present: Cllr Hodson (Chairman), Leslie, Nightingale, Roundhill, Sebastian, Southworth, Wade, Ward, White. Also in attendance: Sarah Codling (clerk), County Councillor Peter Lake, Laura Palmer, Mr & Mrs Cowlishaw, Linda Griffin
1. To receive apologies and reason for absence.
Apologies were received from Christine Thompson (family business). All apologies were accepted.
2. To receive declarations of interest in respect of items on the Agenda.
3. Public Forum
Linda Griffin attended the meeting to discuss her role as ‘Footpath Tsar’. A draft action plan has been written and circulated to Councillors. The plan has been written by Linda as her interpretation of the work required.
The first action is to look at how to improve the footpath in Hever passed Chippens Bank. Other comments in the Parish Plan have stated that it would benefit residents if a footpath from the Station to the Castle was improved. Kent County Council are prepared to improve the footpath in principle. A meeting is being planned with KCC to discuss further.
Following discussions, it was established that it is the responsibility of the landowner to keep the access clear. There is no obligation regarding how muddy the path is but it should be kept clear of vegetation and obstruction. Duncan Leslie declared an interest in this discussion as Hever Castle currently have a disagreement regarding the bridge up by Threshers Field. A meeting is planned at the end of the week between Duncan Leslie and David Smith from KCC. David Smith is very interested in reinstating a cycle route from Edenbridge.
Kent County Council have an overview of the footpaths. However, they have a limited budget and would not be able to help in anything other than urgent issues. It is hoped that as Linda is our advocate in the area will help to advise KCC of any priorities and to apply any necessary pressure to get work completed.
It was noted that it may not be in the interest of the landowner of Chippens Bank to maintain the footpath as it goes through their garden. However, it may be possible for the Parish Council to grant some funding towards maintenance. There are also employees at KCC who will write to landowners advising them to move any obstructions and to keep vegetation cut back.
It was noted that bridges are not the responsibility of the landowner. However, stiles and gates are not so clear cut but it is believed to be the responsibility of the landowner.
Another query arose regarding animals in fields and the liability should a member of the public be knocked down by any animals.
The Parish Council agreed that they are satisfied with the action plan. The Parish Council have a limited knowledge but are interested in finding out more.
Kenton Ward asked whether it would be possible for walkers to report flytipping. The tip has changed its regulations limiting the vehicles that can use the facility. Therefore, more flytipping has been seen in the area. Joanna Wade advised that it is the responsibility of the landowner to remove any waste however, the environment agency will remove waste near water and the local authority would remove waste on the highway.
The Parish Plan results show that 102 people are interested in getting involved with footpaths, gardens and litter.
The Parish Council do not have any expectations and are grateful to Linda for taking on the responsibility. The Parish Council will provide any possible support but do not feel there is a prescribed format to follow.
The financing of any remedial work was discussed but it was felt that it should be discussed further at a separate meeting along with who makes decisions, safety and insurance.
Edenbridge Town Council run a footpath committee which may be worth approaching.
4. To receive reports of County and District Councillors
County Councillor Lake will be arriving late so his report will be given upon his arrival.
5. To approve the Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held 10th September 2012
The minutes of the meeting held 10 September 2012 were signed as a true and accurate record.
6. To determine matters arising from the previous Minutes for updating and noting.
• Clerk to book a bulk refuse freighter – completed. Booked for 17th November.
• Clerk to contact Sevenoaks District Council regarding Register of Interest Forms – completed. The response has been circulated to Councillors.
• Clerk to contact the village halls to advise funding available from the Parish Council – carried forward.
• Clerk to investigate installing a waste bin and dog bin near Four Elms School – Sevenoaks District Council have been contacted. Awaiting response.
• Clerk to research grants available for public lavatories – guidance received from KALC.
• Clerk to organize a meeting with Highways regarding Four Elms crossroads – this took place 24th October.
• John Hodson to organise a date for a community meeting – booked for 17th November.
• Clerk to start a project for a playground and gym facilities in Four Elms and Hever – appointments booked with suppliers.
• Christine Thompson to review allotments – ongoing. Carried forward.
• Clerk to investigate funding for publishing Parish Plan from District Cllr Neal – Clerk advised that the Community Fund is not suitable for the parish plan.
• Christine Thompson to research ideas and applications required for changing the car parking in Hever – discussions taking place with Sevenoaks District Council.
• Clerk to advertise the Olympic Legacy – adverts The Link.
• Clerk to liaise with Edenbridge Town Council regarding Gatwick consultations – completed. The Town Clerk has advised that all consultations will be sent to Hever as and when they receive them.
• Anita Sebastian to apply for Members Fund from County Cllr Lake regarding picnic benches on Hever Field – ongoing.
• Funding through Princes Countryside Fund – Bonnie White advised we cannot apply for funding. There are other grant organisations the Council could look at but this should be reviewed once a final list of projects has been created. Most charitable trusts will not give to items responsible for local authorities. Bonnie advised she is prepared to do additional work.
7. To receive an update on the Parish Plan.
Following the Parish Plan, many projects have been identified. It was proposed that each project has a Councillor assigned to be responsible for the overseeing of the project. The Parish Council currently has £25,000 in the bank. This sum includes some committed spend but there is some room for projects to be completed. Once the projects have been reviewed it can be established which order to complete them. Responsibilities were allocated as follows:
Picnic benches for Hever Field – Anita Sebastian. It is hoped that some funding will be given by County Councillor Peter Lake but this could be unlikely owing to the funding we are receiving at Four Elms crossroads and already received by the school.
Running track on Hever Field – Joanna Wade. Enquiries are still to be made as to whether the field can be used.
Outdoor gym on Hever Field – John Roundhill
Bike racks – John Southworth. Many cyclists visit the café in Four Elms and John Southworth felt that it would be a good idea to provide bike racks. Following discussions it was felt that the Council would offer bike racks to cater for 20 bikes, asking the café to match fund. After reviewing the success it can be decided whether to install bike racks at other local spots through the parish.
Peter Lake arrived 8.15pm
Report from County Councillor Peter Lake
• A ‘caretaker day’ has been organised for Hever and Four Elms whereby a team from Kent Highways will complete matters as requested by the Parish Council. Should the day be successful the team will visit the area for a week next year.
• Peter Lake has met with Kent Highways and the Clerks of Penshurst, Chiddingstone, Leigh, Cowden and Hever regarding verge cutting. Last year, Kent spent very little money on verge cutting (under £1,000 for Hever). Peter is trying to get all parishes together to bid to get verges cut property and for the base of hedges to receive a ‘proper’ cut. The Clerk at Chiddingstone is prepared to head up the project but needs the other parishes to commit. Currently, the Clerk at Chiddingstone is trying to extract the money Kent currently pay the contractor to be given to each parish. This matter is ongoing.
• There is a meeting at Gatwick regarding aircraft noise. Paul Carter, leader of the Council, is to visit Hever towards the end of the month. The Chair of Gatwick has not considered the problems currently caused when the M25 is shut down. Another runway would cause chaos, especially during building.
Gatwick are currently allowed to have 11,200 aircraft movements at night in the summer months between 11.30pm-6.30am. Heathrow only have emergency flights at night.
• Peter Lake believes that the Parish Council should promote ‘Speedwatch’ as part of the traffic works in Four Elms. Penshurst are currently trialling the programme and it gets the police involved.
• Peter Lake hopes to have the plans for the Four Elms traffic scheme available for the community meeting on 17th November. Peter has already signed off for upgrading road furniture and interactive signs and installing traffic detectors. The total spend is to be £27,000.
The work is to be completed before the end of the financial year but it is hoped to be completed before Christmas.
• Kent County Council will not be raising council tax.
• The Police Commissioner election is taking place on Thursday 15th November.
• It may not be possible for Hever to receive funding for the picnic benches. Peter will know by the end of December whether funds are available and will liaise with Anita Sebastian.
• Joanna Wade asked Peter about restricted speed limits in Hever and Markbeech as this has been mentioned in the Parish Plan. Peter advised that it is very difficult to get a speed limit lowered but there is no harm in trying. Peter also believes that 20mph limits will be adopted within villages early next year. It is anticipated that no extra signage would be needed as a village nameplate would depict a 20mph limit. However, it would be possible to put in for a 30mph limit if so wished. Peter is to approach someone at KCC to advise the Parish Council. It was mentioned that this subject could be raised at the Annual Parish Assembly in May 2013.
Peter was thanked for his report and his support to the Parish Council.
Peter Lake left 8.40pm
Item 7, To receive an update on the Parish Plan cont’d
• It was noted that the area by the stream in Four Elms, approaching the Recreation Ground needs to be tarmacked. This area is used as an ancillary car park but has been badly damaged by the building work. John Southworth has received a quote of £1,770 to put the area back to a good state. It is believed that it would also be more inviting towards the Recreation Ground. The Council approved the spend and John Southworth is to also review the car park opposite the church as improving the area could make it safer for children at school pick up time.
• John Hodson advised that the Parish Field between the school and the playground is waterlogged. It would cost approximately £3,500 for it to be drained. The Council supported this spend.
• Joanna Wade presented a draft edition of the Parish Plan. One item that the Parish Council have already initiated is improving communication. The Clerk is updating the website and puts notices in The Link and on parish noticeboards. There is a proposal to have a meeting as to how communications can be improved further.
• Many items from the Parish Plan are ongoing or in the development stage. There is a big piece of work around the Hever Field. Some money is to be spent to Mansells for drawing up plans for an improved car park. Christine Thompson will then take the plans to Sevenoaks District Council to gauge if it is worth applying for planning permission.
• Football goals have been requested and would not cost much to install.
• It would seem that there are many ideas for the parish field so it needs to be established which ideas are viable.
• The Parish Council was advised that there is interest regarding starting a community shop. There is no budget to date and a public meeting would need to be convened to gauge actual support, despite being high on the list of responses from the Parish Plan.
• Environment – there is some potential expenditure to improve the flowers in the area.
• Allotments – Christine Thompson is doing a fantastic job but it is quite detailed work so will take more time.
• Neighbourhood watch – there is one already established in Hever but it is not very well publicised. It may be possible to extend across the parish.
• Toilets. Duncan Leslie declared an interest for this discussion. The church is eager for facilities to be provided. They have approached Hever Castle for have the use of a toilet, but not for public use. One has been provided but there is an access issue.
• The centre of Hever does have a lot of tourists. It may be worth speaking to the tourist office in Edenbridge to see if money would be available to improve our footpath map or for providing facilities for tourists. Joanna Wade to action.
• Joanna Wade explained it is hoped that a summary of the Parish Plan will be published. The design has been completed free of charge but there will be a printing and posting cost. The plan is to be distributed in January. A launch meeting is scheduled to take place in February where some key items can be discussed. The Parish Council agreed this timetable. It was questioned whether a mail drop could be completed and direct residents to the website to read the Parish Plan. Joanna explained that it has been previously agreed that each resident would receive a printed copy as it encourages people to read the whole document.
• Kenton Ward is reviewing the possibility of community groups on facebook or other social media.
• Housing has been surveyed and there is a limited mandate for social housing in the parish. If this matter is to be pursued then someone would need to assume responsibility for the project and speak to Rural Communities in Kent. The Parish Council believed this matter could be delayed as social housing is available in Edenbridge and it was not high on the results from the Parish Plan.
8.1 To approve accounts payable
The accounts were approved as per Appendix A.
A summary of the budget to date was distributed. After discussion the following expenditures were approved:
Picnic benches – £1,800 (should funding not be available from Peter Lake)
Drainage at Four Elms Recreation Ground – £3,500
Bike racks – £200
Tarmacking in Four Elms – £1,700
8.2 Finance Committee: To review responsibilities and approve membership
A finance meeting was scheduled to take place but it was established that all the members of the Finance Committee were Four Elms Councillors. The Clerk has also not received any responses regarding committed or future spend.
It was proposed that the next Full Council meeting would be a precept setting meeting. The precept has changed dramatically over the last 5 years. However, results from the Parish Plan show that half residents would be happy for an increase in the precept if more is achieved.
The Council agreed not to have a Finance Committee and for the accounts to be presented at every meeting (including committed spend).
9. Projects: to discuss possibilities and Councillor responsible:
9.1 Tourism – to include the responsibilities we have and wish to adopt, information, footpath map at Hever, the need for other maps, lavatories, car parking (JW)
These items have been discussed under item 7.
9.2 Footpath action plan
This item was discussed under the public forum.
9.3 Bike racks
This item has been discussed under item 7. The Clerk is also to investigate funding from Sevenoaks District Council for bike racks.
9.4 Playground – Hever & Four Elms
This item has been discussed under matters arising and item 7.
This was discussed under item 7.
There is to be a discussion with John Roundhill regarding litter and Environment Champions. There has been a lot of support indicated but there may be financial implications.
Kenton Ward is reviewing communications online. However, it is important to remember noticeboards. The Clerk is to obtain quotes for more noticeboards. Bonnie White is to create a proposition as to how to advertise/give access to noticeboards.
11. To review the website www.hever.org
This item is to carried forward under communications.
12. To discuss the Four Elms Crossroads
This item was discussed in Peter Lake’s report.
13. To discuss six monthly community meeting to raise the profile of the Parish Council
The community meeting has been publicised on noticeboards, Hever website and in The Link. All Councillors to attend.
14. To discuss Olympic Legacy
The Clerk is to report on forthcoming projects in The Link. This is to include the outdoor gym on Hever Field, bike racks, football goals and footpaths.
15. To discuss drainage at Four Elms Recreation Ground
This item was discussed under item 7.
16. Correspondence for noting
17. Urgent issues at the discretion of the Chairman for noting or inclusion on future agenda.
The next agenda is to include precept setting, safety on How Green Lane, speed restrictions.
There being no further business the meeting closed at 9:50pm