Parish Council - Official Website
Cllr T Richards - Chairman
Cllr Mrs E Cansdale - Vice Chairman
Cllr E Farris
Cllr Mrs E Griffiths
Cllr D Harrison
Also present Cllr N Bell, Ashford Borough Council.
Cllr G Raffe Cllr Mrs G Scott Cllr H Stokes Cllr B Wingham
Apologies for absence from Cllrs M Conway and Mrs B Swain.
31 parishioners were present and 3 apologised for their absence.
1. Comments from parishioners in respect of non agenda items.
Mr Rymer Jones asked that council minutes be passed to the editor of the Parish Magazine for inclusion. This was agreed.
He also suggested that an Open Meeting be held to encourage potential new council members to stand at the May election as he felt that insufficient publicity was being given to the matter. The election "procedure and rules", stipulated by law, were explained and in view of the short time available for nominations to be deposited (by April 1st) councillors agreed a public meeting was not possible. A notice would be displayed on the village notice board asking for prospective new councillors to come forward.
Mr Brown asked that anyone submitting an unsuccessful tender for council business be advised of their failure to secure the work.
2. There were no alterations to the members Register of Interests.
3. The minutes of the meeting held on February 11 tit were approved and signed by the Chairman subject to,
Minute 1. Mr Carr wished it to be recorded that his comments on the preparation of a Parish Plan were given on behalf of Richard Greensted.
Minute 4 Post Office. Mrs Scott wished it to be made clear that Lorne International would have to sell 24 High Street with vacant possession and therefore the building could become empty for a period, however short, and this meant that alternative Post Office premises were essential both in the short and long term.
4. Update on Post Office.
The Chairman asked Cllr Mrs Scott, of the village Post Office Liaison Group, to explain the current position. She read her report which is attached as an appendix to these minutes and the Chairman allowed her to clarify points raised by some parishioners in the audience. These included,
Despite the fact that the planning application (on display this evening) for a temporary "Portacabin" Post Office in the car park asked for 5 years it was likely that it would be granted for only 3 years which should be adequate for permanent premises to be found. It was estimated that the provision and subsequent installation of equipment in the "Portacabin" would take about 10 to 12 weeks. It was hoped that there would be no substantial break in Post Office service between the existing and new premises.
It was agreed that a "Portacabin" was not the ideal building to locate in the Conservation Area but efforts would be made to "make it blend in" and it was most unlikely that the planning permission would allow any extension beyond three years for this very reason.
It was also agreed that locating in the car park would unfortunately reduce the parking space available for village visitors and this could well be detrimental to other village businesses.
It was suggested that the village could be asked to fund raise for a permanent Post Office. The Liaison Group would look at the implications of this.
The Chairman explained in detail why the Village Hall Trustees felt unable to agree to a Post Office being provided in the existing hall - quite simply they felt the Charity rules that they were obliged to follow would not allow them to make part of the hall available for commercial use to the detriment of hall users. They could only have made space available if it was surplus to requirements.
Under agenda item 10 (planning) see below, the council unanimously agreed to support the provision of a temporary Post Office in the car park for up to three years.
5. Possible twinning with Buchy, France.
The clerk had received further correspondence and a brochure Item Buchy and they had invited a small group to visit their town in early April to see if twinning was a practical proposition. Cllr Stokes agreed to organise the visit and he would report the groups views to the Parish Meeting on April 22nd.
6. Report from Cllr Bell, Ashford Borough Council.
Most of Cllr Bells comments had been concerning the Post Office where he had given maximum support to the Liaison Group. His only other comment was that whilst nobody liked increases in Council Tax he was pleased to say that Ashford Borough had achieved the lowest rate in Kent!
For item 03/00324/AS (provision of temporary Post Office) Cllr Mrs Scott wished it to be noted that she had been consulted as a neighbour of the site but would still wish to vote on the issue. Cllr B Wingham said that as his business could be influenced by the reduction in car parking space he would withdraw for this item and would not take part in the vote. The 8 councillors present voted unanimously to support the application and noted that it was likely that permission would be granted for 3 years.
The payments listed were all approved by the Council.
The following items were noted.Mr Creasey of Sissinghurst Road had asked if he could be village Pond Warden. The council gladly gave its support.
The poor state of the footbridge between Glebelands and Chulkhurst had been brought to the clerks attention. This is a Borough responsibility and they will be asked to arrange repairs.
The Rural Housing Trust advises that there is a strong possibility of funds being available for a small development, in Biddenden, of local houses for local people. They will keep us advised as soon as more is known.
Councillors were asked to note that the Open Day at Drummond Randalls garden railway is July 12th. Profits will go to the Jubilee Meadow fund.
The Chairman had spoken to ABC concerning their "Cultural Services Best Value Review". He felt the document was confusing but nevertheless we were asked to respond to the questionnaire. Cllr Stokes agreed to do this.
The clerk was asked to see what progress ABC were making with the various road/pavement schemes discussed at the January 28 meeting. The possibility of a 20mph speed limit by the school should be added to the list.
10. Village Design Statement.
Mr Carr sent his apologies but his written update was circulated to all councillors. Comments had been received from ABC and these were being incorporated in a final draft. Councillors asked that a copy of the final draft be with them by April 2nd so that they can consider it for the Council meeting on April 8th.
The Chairman said he was not surprised by some of the comments from ABC and felt they would have to be addressed. Cllr Stokes agreed that some amendments were necessary but wished to record that he felt the Design Statement team had done a good job and they should be congratulated for their hard work.
11. Gordon Jones Playing Field.
It was reported that the repair work to the play area was complete (or nearly so) and the clerk would inspect prior to the account being presented at the April meeting.
12. Millennium Field and Jubilee Meadow.
The minutes of the March 4th meeting were circulated to all councillors. It was particularly noted that the Headcorn Air Cadets who had assisted with tree/hedge planting as part of their Duke of Edinburgh award were keen to assist again as they had enjoyed the work!
The clerk was asked to write to Mrs Pamela Marchant expressing condolences at the death of her husband, Daryl. Mr Marchant had been of great service to the village in assisting with the earlier Village Appraisal and latterly with the artwork on the Millennium Field notice board.
Mrs Scott asked that it be minuted that the third tree provided by the Golden Jubilee Committee had now been planted. One on the Village Green, one in the churchyard and the last by the Millennium Field entrance. Councillors expressed their appreciation of this.
13. May 1st Parish Election.
It was noted that the following councillors had decided not to seek re election and it was hoped new candidates would come forward.
Cllr M Conway, Cllr E Farris, Cllr Mrs E Griffiths, Cllr G Raffe, Cllr H Stokes, Cllr B Wingham.
14. Next meeting. April 8th and if required a planning meeting on March 25th. The meeting closed at 9.55 pm
Graham Smith, Parish Clerk. March 13th 2003 Contact No. 01622 890596