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Minutes of the 107th Annual Parish Meeting of Biddenden
Held on Tuesday 24 April 2001 at 7.30 p.m. in the Club House
NATURE RESERVES – A PRESENTATION BY PAULINE HARVEY, CONSERVATION OFFICER, ENGLISH NATURE (Introduction by Cllr. T Richards)
Cllr. Richards confirmed that he had recently met with Mrs. Harvey to discuss the possibility of the Millennium Field being given Nature Reserve Status. He reported that she had been most impressed with the work carried out at the field and that, in her initial view, it would be eligible should it be agreed to pursue this route. In addition, if Nature Reserve Status is obtained funding for the purchase of additional land may also be available.
Mrs Harvey explained the background to and the role of English Nature and Nature Reserves with the use of a slide presentation then took questions from the meeting.
The objectives of Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) cover:
The Millennium Field project has the potential to cover all three of these areas. On the educational side talks by English Nature and the Local Countryside Officer can be arranged, which in turn can encourage involvement from the community.
As the initial inspection has been carried out and she is happy that the criteria has been met, Mrs Harvey confirmed the next step would be to draft a management plan for nature conservation. The Kent Wildlife Trust has offered to undertake this for a fee £250.00, which she confirmed was an extremely reasonable offer. English Nature only act as an advisory body – the declaration of Nature Reserve Status is made by either the Borough or Parish Council.
Should the Millennium Field become an LNR dogs would not be excluded. Control would remain in the hands of the Parish Council and thus the regular Millennium Field Summer Event would not require any special permission providing that it fits in with the management plan.
Funding is available to Nature Reserves via English Nature from the New Opportunities Fund. This is a match-funding scheme however volunteer working time can be used to make up the difference. Funds are primarily available for ongoing management however a smaller amount is available for land purchase.
Once LNR Status is granted it is unlikely that it can be removed at a later date hence the importance to get the decision right.
Cllr. Richards thanked Mrs. Harvey for her most informative presentation.
The minutes of the meeting held on 25 April 2000 were approved and signed.
There were no matters arising.
The main topic of the past 12 months was Traffic Calming. The Chairman confirmed that the traffic islands and extended speed limits were in place with the improvements to the car park entrance, which should help to slow down the traffic when turning into the village street from the Tenterden direction, to follow. With regards to the junction layout proposals he expressed his disappointment that option 1 - which received a majority vote in the first referendum, was fully supported by 7 votes to 2 by the Parish Council and indeed considered the best option by Ashford Borough Council Highway authority – will not be implemented as a result of the Joint Transportation Committee’s decision to proceed with option 3. However he thanked the Vice-Chairman, Cllr. Mrs Scott for her efforts in putting the Parish Council's point of view at the various meetings she attended.
Thanks were given to the Clerk for her work during the last year and to Cllr. Tom & Mrs Richards for kindly hosting the Millennium Field committee meetings each month.
Cllr. Farris confirmed that he would be standing down as Chairman in May but would stay on as a Parish Councillor, giving full support to his successor.
Attention was drawn to the many activities that go on in the village, often unnoticed. Thanks were given to the "BEST" organisation who plough their profits back into the village. Particular reference was made to the £200 donated to the Millennium Field and also for arranging the bonfire BLAZE and the Christmas lights. Thanks were given to Betty Richards, Pat Vallas and helpers for providing the annual Art Exhibition, which attracts entries from all over Kent and East Sussex.
The Chairman asked everyone to consider if they were doing enough to support the various village organisations such as The Church and The School, the village stores, the post office, the restaurants & tea rooms, public houses, the Vineyards, the Timber yard, and hairdressers.
He reminded everyone of all the social and sporting organisations - details of which can be found on the inside of the Parish magazine- and asked that everyone join in and support whenever able.
With regards to planned works, the refurbishment of the children's play section on the Gordon Jones playing field will commence shortly. The Council is also to harden the remaining grass area of the car park behind the Bowls Club.
Thanks were given to Cllr. Richards and Robin Swain for erecting the new Parish Council notice board and again to Cllr. Richards for the excellent job in refurbishing the village green. Further thanks were given to Chart Hills Golf Club who very kindly supplied all the labour for installing the new posts and chains on the green, free of charge. Offers of help are most welcome, as there are always jobs to be done around the village.
Finally the Chairman thanked all Councillors for their support, with a special mention this year to Cllr. Brian Wingham for carrying out the internal audit.
Mr. Dearing distributed copies of the audited accounts of the Consolidated Charity for the year ending 31st December 2000. He reported that 62 people had attended this year’s Easters distribution of biscuits. Repair works had been carried out at the Old Workhouse and it was anticipated that a similar amount would be spent again this year. Interest on the Flexible Savings Account had proved disappointing and this account has subsequently been changed. He also reported that there are currently savings of £6,250 in addition to those shown on the balance sheet.
The Accounts were adopted at the meeting. AGREED.
Mr. Dearing was thanked for the report and for his efforts in producing the accounts.
ASHFORD BOROUGH COUNCIL REPORT
With regards to the Junction Layout Proposals, Councillor Bell confirmed that he agreed with the decision to implement Option 3. He explained this by stating that in a situation where a community is split by opposing views it is often best to take the route which results in a minimal amount of change.
The Ashford BC portion of this year’s Council Tax will increase at an above inflation rate - an increase of 5.4%. This is the result of the Borough Council paying more tax to Government and the introduction of a new refuse collection and recycling service.
Cllr. Bell confirmed that Ashford BC did not agree with the findings of the recent Government report on increased housing development. It has subsequently been asked by Government to set up study groups to look into the sustainability of growth in the borough. These studies are expected to be completed in July 2002 and he warned that increased housing in the area is still a threat.
The Borough Council is making rate relief available to small businesses that have been affected by the Foot Mouth crisis.
The Chairman thanked Cllr. Bell for his report.
Cllr. Richards reviewed the developments in the field during the last year. The next project is the setting up and running of a nature trail for which volunteers are needed.
Enquiries are underway regarding the purchase of some additional land, which if successful would assist in getting the school more involved in the project.
Recent working party meetings have been put on hold due to the weather and the Foot & Mouth crisis, however once work can recommence additional volunteers will be most welcome.
VILLAGE DESIGN STATEMENTS
Richard Carr, as possible Chairman of a VDS Committee, addressed the meeting. He referred the meeting to the minutes of the last APM at which this subject was introduced. He re-emphasised that a VDS would give Biddenden the chance to have a say in its future development. In light of government proposals for increased new housing it cannot be assumed that Biddenden will be unaffected.
The next step is to set up a Committee of volunteers, who will be able to call on the KRCC and other organisations for guidance. Local participation is vital so the "marketing" of this project will need careful consideration.
Mr. Carr was thanked for his presentation.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Mr. Hugh Richards updated the meeting on the event planned for the Millennium Field on 16 June 2001. A final decision as to whether the event proceeds in light of Foot & Mouth will be taken on 30th April. However at the moment it is going ahead as planned without livestock.
Mr. Peter Whitestone offered a copy of the Village Appraisal to anyone who may not have received a complimentary copy. He also passed on congratulations to Cllr. Tom Richards and Mr. Derek Gaffee for their success in obtaining a Lottery Award for the refurbishment of the Village Hall.
The Chairman thanked all the speakers once again and everyone for their attendance before declaring the meeting closed at 8.50p.m.