HEVER PARISH COUNCIL
THE MINUTES OF A MEETING OF HEVER PARISH COUNCIL HELD AT
HEVER VILLAGE HALL,
ON MONDAY 16TH JULY 2012 AT 7.30PM
Present: Cllr Hodson (Chairman), Nightingale, Sebastian, Southworth, Thompson, Wade, Ward, White.
Also in attendance: County Councillor Lake, District Councillor Neal, Sarah Codling (clerk) and 3 members of the public
1. To receive apologies and reason for absence
Apologies were received from Duncan Leslie and John Roundhill (work). All apologies were accepted.
2. To receive declarations of interest in respect of items on the Agenda
3. Public Forum – time limit 10 minutes.
The public present wished to hear news regarding the Four Elms crossroads. Therefore, this item was delayed until after the County and District reports.
4. To receive reports of County and District Councillors
• As mentioned at the last meeting, a new Archive Centre has opened in Maidstone. Cllr Lake has raised an order for maprs of the local area that go back 200 years. They have not been received yet but are expected for the next Parish Council meeting.
• Fracking has come to a grinding halt and will be no more. The Chief Executive is closing the hold in Cowden.
• Cllr Lake proposed a mini roundabout as a solution to the traffic problem at the crossroads in Four Elms. Highways have rejected this option.
Bumpers have been laid in the village to gauge the speed and volume of traffic going through Four Elms. The responses from parishioners present at the Highways meeting have been collated ad forwarded to the Highways team. Cllr Lake has written his own report to Highways.
Cllr Lake has received a petition from Charlotte Cowlishaw. It is still awaiting some signatures from the school. It is anticipated to take the petition before the whole County Council in the Autumn to keep up pressure to achieve slowing down traffic and stopping accidents. However, the petition states that residents wish Hever Parish Council to make the necessary changes. Cllr Lake is liaising with the Proper Officer to see how to make the petition valid to the County Council as this matter is in their jurisdiction. It may be necessary for the Parish Council to correspond with Cllr Lake deferring the matter to him.
A timetable has been published as to how long processes take regarding Highways matters. Once the consultation has been completed it may be up to 36 weeks before any work is done on the ground. No matter what the outcome of the consultation, Cllr Lake has promised another interactive speed sign to be located on the Pootings Road. The order for the sign takes 16 weeks to complete and was initiated 3 weeks ago.
John Hodson thanked Cllr Lake for all the work he has achieved. However, concern was voiced regarding the timetable of processes. However, Cllr Lake assured the Council that the countdown began at the onsite meeting. It is anticipated that an open meeting will take place September/October where decisions regarding the solution will take place. The 36 weeks stated is the time it takes to satisfy advertising and legal requirements. There are 330 Parish Councils in Kent alone so planning for such projects is complicated and, therefore, a timetable is imposed.
The members of the public were invited to comment on this matter. It was mentioned that a report in the news over the last few days proposed a paper giving local authorities the power to cut speed limits. Cllr Lake recognised this initiative but stated that it will take longer to adopt as officers are not keen due to the necessary police support. Cllr Lake is campaigning for a reduction in speed on roads, especially country lanes. When asked whether the Parish Council should be responding, Cllr Lake advised that KCC will be responding. Cllr Lake will also take a message back from this meeting to the Cabinet member alerting the feeling of residents.
• A success was reported that £113,000 has been donated on the initiative of Cllr Lake from KCC for Four Elms Primary School towards their building project.
• Cllr Lake has complained bitterly to Highways as policies have been instigated limiting what verges can be cut. The work is now being undertaken but Cllr Lake believes local parishes should work together creating a bid to source contractors from outside Kent Highways for any grass cutting needs. Cllr Lake is not satisfied with the work completed to date.
• The ‘Bold Steps for Aviation’ report from County Hall has been received advocating a second runway at Gatwick and a rail connection between Gatwick and Heathrow. Cllr Lake has submitted a response to delete the second runway and rail link. Cllr Lake also believes that the request for Heathrow to have night flights will work against the parish as there is no local consultation.
• A local meeting took place with Tom Denton from Gatwick. Cllr Lake has asked whether Gatwick can plan forward so Hever can be assured no aircraft are flying over on designated evenings. Cllr Lake has also requested steeper angles of descent. Mr Denton was made very aware of the local feeling regarding aircraft noise.
Kenton Ward said it was his understanding that there was an environmental assessment regarding flight paths and ascents. Owing to the narrow flight path there is a high volume of traffic over the school and castle. Kenton asked whether a further environmental assessment can take place regarding the level of pollution from fuel. Joanna Wade commented that Gatwick has previously been asked so it would be good to go down another avenue.
• District Cllr Neal stated that he received an email this afternoon from someone concerned that Hever is going to shut the car park to parents taking children to school by car. Cllr Lake has requested information from the secretary but is yet to receive a reply. Joanna Wade responded that the problem is that parents are currently using the pub car park which is private property. The school has no parking and it is a dangerous bend for cars to pause on. The pub has started putting up signs stating no parking and a discussion is ongoing within Hever whether there is scope to improve parking or to increase school parking. There is currently no public parking within Hever and a solution is dependent on clever thinking and funding, with no quick fix solution. There could be a long term solution depending on planning as there may be some real estate available.
This matter has come up in the Parish Plan and the Parish Council will collaborate with Cllr Lake and Cllr Neal in the future to resolve the issue.
• Unfortunately, there is no update regarding improving broadband. The Clerk is to request information from Joe Middleton at SDC.
• The most important matter at SDC at present is how to implement the Welfare Reform Bill and to keep people in affordable housing. Universal credit is a new single payment to those on benefits from which all rent and bills are paid. However, it was reported that many in social housing do not have accounting skills and have debts. Therefore, there is concern as to how the money will be managed.
Cllr Neal has proposed an idea to run a friendly society concentrating on money management. Central Government want people to take responsibility for running their lives but some steps need to be put in place to help people to achieve this.
• There has been a lot of correspondence received from local residents who are worried about a current planning application at Dyehurst Stud, requesting to convert a stable into a holiday let. The application is going forward to Development Control as it is believed to be a misuse of land.
Cllr Neal believed the Parish Council support this application. Christine Thompson responded that, subject to the guidelines the Parish Council are required to follow, there were no grounds to object. Therefore, the response was to defer the decision ‘up the line’ to the Case Officer. Cllr Neal believes that if this application is granted within current policy then the Green Belt is not being considered properly and policies need to be reviewed.
• Hever Hotel have continued to use an area of parking that is identified as overflow for construction purposes. Planning Enforcement has looked at this area and the Hotel has been requested to remove the hardstanding as permission was not granted for it to be a permanent entity. Cllr Neal is to push this matter forward.
• Cllr Neal noted that the Parish Council is looking to build or upgrade the play facilities in the parish. The Big Community Fund would be one area for funding. The August application is due 8th August but they happen every month. Cllr Neal can obtain the application from SDC and the Parish Council should arrange a meeting with Cllr Neal as he needs to present the application to Cabinet.
At this point Cllr Lake mentioned that he will be completing a radio interview tomorrow morning regarding ambulance cover in the area. There is a degree of concern that ambulances do not get to residents within the designated timeframe. Cllr Lake offered a defibrillator to Hever and Four Elms if they want one. However, It needs to be accessible and a number of people would need basic training in the use of machines.
5. To approve the Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held 14th May 2012.
The minutes of the meeting held 20th March 2012 were signed as a true and accurate record.
Minutes are to be distributed within 2 weeks. The website is to have a disclaimer advising that minutes are draft form until ratified at the next Parish Council meeting.
6. To determine matters arising from the previous Minutes for updating and noting.
• Clerk to liaise with Kenton Ward regarding an airshow by Mr Tom King for the Jubilee Celebration – all events previously arranged.
• Clerk to book bulk refuse freighter for 6 months time – requested dates from Hever Castle to use the car park.
• Clerk to improve the Community side of the website www. hever.org – ongoing.
• Clerk to liaise with Clerk of Edenbridge Town Council regarding litter – Edenbridge have a team of community litter pickers and employ a Town Warden to resolve any litter issues.
• John Roundhill to review costings for litter bags to be provided within the parish – completed.
• Bonnie White to research the Princes Countryside Fund – to be carried forward.
• Clerk to contact Four Elms and Hever Primary Schools to see if there is demand for a playground – Four Elms is keen to renovate the playground. No response from Hever.
• To contact Mrs Biddall at KCC to find out who owns footpaths – email response from Mrs Biddall outlining responsibilities at KCC. Distributed to Councillors.
• Peter Lake to obtain historic maps of the parish – carried forward.
• Peter Lake to investigate the traffic on Five Fields Lane – carried forward.
• All Councillors to advise the Clerk if they are opting out of receiving the Members Allowance – carried forward.
• Clerk to ask KALC regarding level of insurance needed – KALC have advised that our level of insurance is recognised as the industry standard. The insurance levels are to be assessed following the parish risk assessment. Training should be available if needed.
• Clerk to review and amend risk assessment form – completed.
• John Roundhill and Christine Thompson to review assets within the parish – completed. No amendment to insurance necessary. However, some items need to be removed from the Hever Parish Field. Clerk to contact Gerry Ryan regarding ownership. Clerk is also to ask the grass cutters to cut around the hut.
Councillors expressed their thanks to John and Christine for completing the assessment.
• Clerk to invite Police, County Councillor, District Councillor and Gerry Ryan to the Annual Assembly Meeting – completed.
• It was noted that the Jubilee celebrations went very well. Congratulations to all who organised, especially Kenton who organised the Hever celebration.
• No further information has been received regarding the broadband bid. Clerk to confer with Peter Lake as to what has happened with the information the Parish Council has sent to him. Details are to be put on the www.hever.org website publicising for residents to lodge their interest. This is also to be sent out on the next e-newsletter. Additional information is to be on noticeboards.
7. To receive an update on the Parish Plan
There are many initiatives that are already underway. Another project is to find a footpath ‘Tsar’ to police the footpaths. An article has been put in The Link magazine as to whether anyone would be interested in the role. This is an ongoing project and would need a ‘Tsar’ in each village.
Currently, Joanna Wade, Kenton Ward and Bridget Harris are working to get a final print out of the results. Unfortunately, owing to the volume and complex nature of the results, this is a slow procedure.
There is a lot of feedback regarding the configuration of the centre of Hever and interest in tennis courts and more functions in the hall. However, there is also a lot of belief that the existing hall is not fit for purpose. Many responses show interest in a community shop. Some residents in Four Elms are interested in an allotment and Christine Thompson is reviewing options regarding location. Joanna Wade is to find out who runs the allotments in Edenbridge.
There is an incremental movement towards lots of small initiatives but the main problem to overcome is who will run the projects.
The steering group wish to publish a Parish Plan which states proposed projects and how (if not when) projects will be completed. Christine Thompson is currently compiling a list of local groups and clubs.
8.1 To approve accounts payable.
John Southworth presented the budget to date. It was noted that little has been spent towards community grants. John Hodson proposed a grant of £250 towardds the community transport run by Bridget Harris. This was approved. Clerk to contact Mrs Harris regarding who to pay the cheque to.
A 6 month review of the budget is to be presented at the next meeting. This is to be one of the first items on the agenda.
9. To discuss litter issues.
John Roundhill advised by email that he has purchased a litter bag ring and litter picker to test within the village. He has also set up a litter picking group on the CPRE website called ‘Love Hever’. Similar groups can be set up for Four Elms and Markbeech. John has put himself as the contact if any volunteers are interested. This will also be advertised in local pubs and on the noticeboard. CPRE have also sent John a supply of strong litter bags and high visibility jackets for litter pickers to wear. Should the bag ring and litter picker prove successful more can be purchased. The Clerk is to investigate purchasing a sign for the road when volunteers are working stating ‘man in road’. The Council noted that John should contact Stuart Young from Four Elms who used to work at the Council in Maidstone.
It was also reported that there is flytipping on Hever Road between the Station and Edenbridge Road. There is police tape across the area but it is getting worse. This is a recurring problem. The Clerk is to contact PCSO Sue Harwood to mention this problem and invite her to the next meeting.
10. To discuss the Four Elms cross roads
This matter was discussesd under the County report.
It was noted that the stop sign on the Bough Beech Road side of the crossroads need straightening. Clerk to contact Highways. The drain on the junction of Five Fields Lane and Four Elms Lane needs clearing.
11. To discuss how to raise the profile of the Parish Council
It has been noted that other Parish Councils have a regular report in their parish magazine. It was proposed that Hever Parish Council put something in each edition of The Link. The report will also be published on the noticeboard.
The Clerk sends out an e-newsletter at least once a month. This should mirror the report in The Link. Residents should also be invited to put items on the website. The Clerk is to prompt Councillors on the first of each month for information to go in The Link.
It was also proposed that there is a meeting every 6 months advising parishioners what the Parish Council has been involved in. This is to be an informal meeting in both Four Elms and Hever. The first meeting is to be in September when the new academic year starts.
The Parish Plan results show that the majority of residents do not know enough about the Parish Council. Also, many people said they would welcome more social events. Local speakers are to be invited, for example the primary schools. John Hodson to review.
12. To discuss the need for updating/creating a recreation ground within the Parish
It is believed that there is reasonable requirement for a local playground. The Parish Council commit in principle to providing a better open space. Christine Thompson is to liaise with Dympna at Four Elms School regarding interest. The Clerk is to liaise with Edenbridge Town Council who are putting in a new recreation ground by the leisure centre.
13. To discuss the planning development at Hever Golf Club
This item was covered under the District Report.
14. Correspondence for noting
15. Urgent issues at the discretion of the Chairman for noting or inclusion on future agenda.
• It was proposed that there should be a minimum of 3 Councillors involved in making decisions regarding matters between meetings. If matters arise, the Clerk is to email Councillors and wait for 24 hours for a response. Ideally, Councillors from the relevant ward should be voting.
• Cllr Peter Lake is to be contacted regarding the funding for the hardstanding outside Four Elms church.
• An article is to go in The Link regarding aircraft noise. Cllr Lake did not report that the meeting held recently was organized by Joanna Wade and was to report the findings from the noise meter in Hever.
There being no further business the meeting closed at 9:40pm