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Minutes of the meeting held in the Old Village Hall on December 13th 2005
Cllr P Whapham – Chairman Cllr H Richards
Cllr Mrs E Cansdale – Vice Chairman Cllr Mrs B Swain
Cllr Mrs J Ashcroft Cllr J Rymer Jones
Cllr M Conway (left early)
Cllr C Friend (arrived late)
Apologies for absence – Cllr Mrs R Ashton, Cllr R Brown and Cllr Mrs G Scott
Also present – Cllr N Bell, Ashford Borough Council and
1 There were no alterations to members Register of Interests.
2 Items raised by parishioners present.
Mr Linnett referred to the Standards Board investigation into allegations against Cllr Mrs G Scott and although the Standards Board concluded on 18th October 2005 “that no action needs to be taken” said he felt the findings should be recorded. The clerk said these were available for all to see on the Boards website www.standardsboard.co.uk
Deborah Clayden said that following her letter of November 11th to Cllr Whapham (which included references to Cllr N Bell) Cllr Bell had phoned her in what she felt was an “unpleasant manner”. The Chairman said he considered this a matter between Cllr Bell and herself as Cllr Bell was not answerable to the Parish Council.
Bryn Gaertner said he had concerns about Cllr Bell’s approach to parish council matters and also that Cllr Mrs Scott felt he had a “crusade against the Post Office scheme”. The Chairman said he did not feel the latter to be true. Mr Gaertner also wondered whether there was any news about the proposed telecommunications mast along the Sissinghurst Road – the clerk said no planning decisions had been received.
Brian Wingham referred to a letter in the Kentish Express about the Post Office which he said he felt was very misleading – he had been asked to sign it but declined.
Rebecca Swain said she wanted answers to the Post Office deliberations as a decision on its location always seemed to be “put off till later”. The Chairman said he thought a final decision would be made at the next meeting when, hopefully, all facts on both possible locations were available.
3 The minutes of the meeting held on November 8th were approved and signed by the Chairman with the addition to Para. 6 line 17 “He would like it pursued with vigour and enthusiasm”
4 Matters arising from the November minutes.
Cllr Richards referred to minute 4 and said he felt he had been accused of advising the Standards Board about the Bethersden marble alleged irregularity. He said he had not made the complaint and asked that Cllrs Mrs Ashton, Brown and Mrs Scott apologise to him at the next council meeting. Cllr Rymer Jones said he could not recall any specific allegation being made in the “heat of discussion”. Cllr Mrs Ashcroft proposed and Cllr Conway seconded that the three named councillors be asked to apologise and retract the allegation. This was agreed.
Cllr Rymer Jones said he had established that the parish council could influence the definition of the “village envelope”. The Chairman said this should be followed up in the New Year.
The Chairman referred to the repairs needed to the bus shelter by “TheWeavers”. It was difficult to get these minor repairs undertaken and the clerk would advertise for an “odd job person” in the hope of finding a suitable local person – if not forthcoming more expensive professional work would be necessary.
Cllr Richards had obtained details of lockable posts for
the Gordon Jones car park and would pass to the clerk to order.
5 Post Office
Cllr Mrs Cansdale reported that the tenders for modifying the toilet block as a Post Office and providing new toilets were due by December 16th.
A floor plan for a possible Post Office at 2 North Street had been presented on December 12th and passed to Post Office HQ for consideration as to the suitability of the location.
Costs for the modification of 2 North Street were still awaited and it was not yet clear who would pay for the required modifications.
Possible grants towards any new Post Office could be established once firm building costs were known.
The Village Hall Management Committee had agreed that the toilets at the back of the Squash Club could be used as temporary village toilets whilst rebuilding took place.
Cllr Conway said he understood the rental required for the Post Office at 2 North Street would be £6,500 per annum which would require a substantial parish council subsidy.
The Chairman closed the meeting to allow parishioners to comment on the above information.
Mr Hall (owner of 2 North Street) said he was prepared to offer a 25 year lease for the Post Office and would be willing to negotiate on the annual rental required. The conversion costs would be in the order of £10,000. Mr Hall said he must have the parish council decision on whether to go ahead with 2 North Street by January 11th 2006. There were several other comments from parishioners on the basis that a decision must be made at the January council meeting.
The Chairman reopened the meeting and read a letter from parishioner Mrs B Richards hoping that 2 North Street would be chosen thus obviating the need (and expense) to rebuild the toilets.
Cllr Rymer Jones said the Salvation Army textile bin was now in place in the Recycling Area. The parish council will get credit for the tonnage collected.
Cllr Rymer Jones said the Borough Monitoring Officer was considering a standardised complaints procedure.
There would be a meeting in January about the Ashford Local Development Framework which would include consideration of village envelopes, conservation area boundaries and housing development. We need to be able to respond to the latter. The Chairman had a copy of the draft LDF and would see a response was forthcoming.
8 Traffic and Pedestrians.
Cllr Friend reported that Messrs Gaertner, Wingham and two others had agreed to join his committee and would report at the January meeting. However initial contact had been made with KCC Highways on
9 Millennium Field and Jubilee Meadow
Cllr Richards circulated a copy of the Committee minutes of December 6th to all present.
He said that estimates were being obtained for the footpath from the MF car park to the school and 87 metres would be on council property and 57 metres on school property. He proposed that the £5000 grant from the Mill Corner developers be split £3000 for the parish council work and £2000 for the school proportion. Cllr Mrs Ashcroft seconded this and all agreed. The clerk would write to Mrs Hodger, the Headmistress, to confirm this.
Mr Richards advised that the path would now be 5 feet wide rather than 4 feet.
The Chairman read an email from Southern Housing that basically explained that housing allocation was now between the parish council and the Housing Association, Ashford Borough Council was not involved. The main role of the parish council was to confirm that applicants had a genuine village connection.
11 Report from Cllr N Bell, Ashford Borough Council
Cllr Bell reported that the main concern of Ashford BC at this time was setting the
2006-7 budget. They were keen not to raise Council Tax but if increased Central Government funding was not forthcoming some Council Tax rise would be inevitable.
It was also possible some staff redundancies would be necessary. An example of the extra work ABC had to undertake as a result of Government legislation was the new licensing laws which were the responsibility of local government but without any extra Central Government support.
Cllr Bell also reminded the parish council that it needed to respond to the Ashford Local Development Framework. (See 7 above)
As regards proposed mobile phone masts Cllr Bell said he thought some lowering may be likely and he would be meeting 3G soon to discuss their aspirations. It was clearly a difficult balance between peoples desire for modern communication and protection of the landscape.
Cllr Mrs Ashcroft said she attended a seminar at KCC about the new highway organisation which she felt was useful and it was apparent that the new structure was trying to be responsive to local wishes and build good local connections. Mrs Ashcroft was asked to maintain this liaison on behalf of the parish council involving Cllr Friend and his Traffic and Pedestrians Committee as appropriate.
The request from the Village Hall Management Committee to construct a path from the MF car park to the Bowls Club (for disabled use) was agreed.
The payments were approved.
The clerk reported that a finance meeting would take place on December 14th to prepare a 2006-7 budget for approval by the full council early in 2006.
Cllr Richards queried whether the recently signed easement for the Mill Corner drainage across the MF car park specified a charge of £37,500. The Chairman said he thought it did but would check.
Cllr Richards queried the £64.56 paid to Cllr Mrs Scott on September 13th for attending a meeting at the Standards Board in London as he thought only standard class train fares should be paid. The clerk pointed out that Cllr Scott had also taken Cllrs Mrs Ashton and Brown to the same meeting and Cllr Brown was unable to use public transport. Cllr Richards said he was unaware of this. The payment had not been queried in September when it received council approval.
The clerk circulated a list of items received.
Cllr Richards asked what was the procedure for dealing with letters received from parishioners. The Chairman said that if letters were addressed to the clerk (which was preferable) then they would be brought to the attention of the full council for consideration.
If they were addressed to the Chairman then he might reply but the Chairman agreed that in future it would be better if even these letters were brought to the attention of the full council.
January 10th 2006.
It was noted that the May 2006 council meeting would be on May 16th NOT the 9th.
The Chairman wished all councillors a Happy Christmas and good New Year.
Graham Smith, Parish Clerk. 01622 890596.
Decisions received from Ashford Borough Council
05/00628 Turks Head Farm, High Halden Rd. Parking for 3 HGVs and use of buildings as office/store. Granted with conditions.
05/01631 Jungalow, Bell Lane. New “eco barn” dwelling. Refused
05/01632 Jungalow, Bell Lane. Demolition of existing bungalow and replacement with “eco barn” dwelling. Refused.
05/01748 Midwood, Benenden Rd. New pitched roof over extension. Granted.
05/01777 Punch Croft, Thurstons Lane. New Verandah. Granted
TC 05/00121 Rectory, High Street. Cut back ash trees. No objections.
FC 05/00117 Tole Wood. Fell 90 oaks. Formal objection.
Medhurst Barn, Cranbrook Road. Change of use for gypsy family for two caravans and hard surfaced areas (Retrospective).
Public inquiry to be held commencing 18 July 2006
The following items were considered by the Council’s planning group.
05/01705 Land rear of Mill Hatch, Tenterden Rd. New single storey dwelling and garages. No objections.
05/01870 Car park, Biddenden. Renewal of temporary consent for mobile Post Office.
05/01889 Vane Court, Smarden Rd. Extension and alterations. No objections.
05/01897 4 Woolpack Cottages, Benenden Rd. Two storey side extension.
05/01906 River Hall Oast, River Hall Lane. Change of use of garage to playroom/office.
05/01912 31 The Meadows. Two storey side extension. No objections.
FC 05/00149 Tole Wood. Fell 25 oaks and coppicing. Agree coppicing, object felling.
The full Council is asked to consider the following,
05/01910 Chart Hills Golf Club. Extension of function room with storage below.
TC05/00157 West Wing, Old Cloth Hall. Tree works to willow and chestnut
£667.25 S Keen, Lengthsman, £368 Wages and £299.25 Tax Credit
£444.67 G Smith, Clerk, Salary
£45.00 Biddenden Blaze. Advertisement in Blaze programme.
£293.75 Audit Commission. Audit of 2004/5 accounts.
£44.06 CC International. Courier delivery and return of easement documents.
£50.00 Biddenden Club House. (See receipts below)
£1305.43 Cyma Architects. Design work for new Post Office. (Already paid as agreed Min. 6. October 11th 2005)
The following monies have been received.
£80.80 Inland Revenue. Tax Credit for Lengthsman’s pay. (Total received to date
£42,500 Thomson, Snell and Passmore. £37,500 easement grant ex Mill Corner developers towards village requirements and £5,000 towards (private) footpath from Millennium Field car park to the school.
£100.00 West Ham United FC. Use of pitches and clubhouse Summer 2005.
(£50 then paid to BVHMC for use of clubhouse)