Biddenden Parish Council - Official Website

Annual Parish Meeting




Meetings 2005
11th January 2005
8th February 2005
21st March 2005
12th April 2005
Annual Parish Meeting
10th May 2005
14th June 2005
9th August 2005
13th September 2005
11th October 2005
8th November 2005
13th December 2005

Biddenden Parish Council

Minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held in the Old Village Hall on Friday April 29th 2005


Cllr Mrs E Cansdale – Chairman                                               Cllr M Conway

Cllr Mrs G Scott – Vice Chairman                                            Cllr H Richards

Cllr Mrs U Ainscough                                                               Cllr J Rymer Jones

Cllr Mrs J Ashcroft                                                                   Cllr Mrs B Swain         

Cllr Mrs R Ashton                                                                    Cllr P Whapham

Cllr R Brown

Also present -  Cllr N Bell, Ashford Borough Council and Cllr M Hill, KCC.

14 parishioners attended.

Apologies for absence were received from Mrs Raffe, Mrs Rymer Jones and Mr Dearing

1  The Chairman welcomed the parishioners and asked the clerk to read the minutes of the Annual Parish Meeting held on May 18th 2004. These minutes had been approved by the Council at its meeting on June 8th 2004.

2  The Chairman then read her annual report of the councils activities over the past year.

A copy is attached to these minutes.

3 Cllr N Bell, Ashford Borough Council, then gave his report which covered the following topics,

  • Ashford Borough Council had again achieved the lowest council tax rise (4.8%) in Kent. This equates to £112 on a band D property. He emphasised that Ashford was a well performing Borough with good financial management.
  • The proposed government driven housing growth for the Borough was still as last year ie. 20,000 homes over the next 20 years with 18,500 in Ashford and the rest spread amongst the villages. Biddenden had been designated for a small increase and so no major developments were anticipated
  • Although safety improvements had been carried out at Castletons Oak crossroads it was still a dangerous location with an accident record.
  • The proposed low cost housing scheme at Cheeselands had been approved by the Borough. It was important that work started at a time that caused minimum disturbance to the protected newt population otherwise a year would be lost.

KCC was seeking a contribution from the developers towards their education budget but Cllr Bell was trying to resolve this as it is basically a social housing scheme rather than a normal commercial development.


4 Post Office

Cllr Mrs G Scott, Chairman of the Post Office Liaison Committee, outlined the progress of this Council Committee (and previously informal Group) in seeking to meet the clear public demand for retention of the Post Office facility as demonstrated by the public meeting on May 6th 2004 and subsequently in the recently completed Parish Plan.

The current scheme is to convert the existing toilets in the car park as a building suitable for a Post Office and build new smaller toilets adjoining. Informal discussions with Ashford Borough planning department would take place very shortly prior to submitting a formal planning application. Early indications are that the scheme is broadly acceptable.

5   Millennium Field and Jubilee Meadow

Cllr H Richards, Chairman of the Field Committee said no major new works had been undertaken in the past year but a shallow “scrape” pond would be created near the school for the childrens study purposes. The proposed new footpath from the Millennium Field car park to the school for “peak period” school use only had been approved by DeFRA and work would start shortly. The path would be controlled by the school.

Parishioners would always be welcome at the Field working parties! Please contact Cllr Richards.


6   Millennium Field fete

Cllr Conway said the fete this year would be on June 4th commencing at 12.30. He outlined all the items expected which included Morris Dancers, a Jazz Band, tractor rides, “dog and duck” racing and a Dog Show.

The fete would cost about £1,500 to set up but it was hoped that village organisations would raise £3,000 to £4,000 between them.


7   KAPC and Parish Forum

Cllr Rymer Jones, the Council representative on these bodies, explained their roles. The former was a coordinating body offering all types of help and guidance to parish councils and the latter a Borough Council initiative covering topics important to Ashford. Recently this had included presentations on speeding, traffic calming, policing, safe disposal of syringes and, in contrast, the possible major expansion of Lydd Airport to accept jet aircraft – perhaps the Luton airport of the south!

Cllr Rymer Jones also drew attention to news about the Parish Council distributed four times a year via 1000 copies of the Parish Magazine rather than the normal circulation of 350. He wished to record his thanks to his delivery people. The Magazine would always appreciate input from parishioners on any interesting topic.


Cllr M Hill, KCC

Cllr Hill explained he was the KCC member responsible for Youth matters, Community safety, Community Wardens and the Police Authority.

  • As regards the county in general he was pleased to tell the audience that Kent had the highest “public satisfaction rating” of any county in the country. This was a splendid achievement and a great credit to the county staff. Also the county had managed a very low (3.7%) council tax rise for the coming year.
  • On Community Wardens he said this scheme was largely a Kent initiative and by June 100 staff would be in post – a year earlier than expected. There was an intensive 7 week training course for Wardens and this course was also marketed to other local authorities as it was recognised as being of benchmark quality. He emphasised that Community Wardens were only successful as a result of close partnership working with the police. In answer to a question he said he would be supportive of a possible joint Warden application from Egerton, Smarden and Biddenden.
  • He advised that the county was budgeting £1million this year for youth schemes and he was pleased at the success of the Biddenden Youth Club which received funds from KCC last year.
  • As regards grants (not just for youth matters) Cllr Hill said he had a total of £10,000 available for good small schemes and he would welcome applications.
  • The revised county road organisation was explained now that all road matters are back under the management of KCC. He said a backlog of road maintenance was being tackled.
  • Cllr Hill reported that money was available in this years budget for speed calming in Biddenden but after much audience discussion and questioning it was not clear exactly what schemes were envisaged! This would be followed up urgently.


9    Cllr Mrs Ashcroft said that her report on road matters had been largely covered by Cllr Hill but she just added that she had regularly reported pot holes for repair and now hoped the new emphasis on road maintenance would result in less pot holes!


10  Cllr Mrs Swain advised that the fencing around the childrens play area was in urgent need of repair as were some of the equipment seats. Repairs had, in fact, been put in hand


11 Cllr Whapham reminded the meeting that he was the Council representative on the Village Hall Management Committee and that the (public) annual meeting of the Hall Trustees was on May 19th. He suggested that if parishioners had views on the Hall and Sports Field management they should come along.


12  Cllr Conway updated the meeting on the current police arrangements for the village and advised that a PC Toby Burns was now “our”officer. A revised local HQ was being set up and we would no longer be managed from Cranbrook – we are not aware of the new location yet.

Last year we had hoped to introduce hand held speed cameras on the main approaches to the village but Police advice meant that they could not be used until certain legal matters were settled – we are still waiting.


13  Parish Plan

Mr Greensted said the plan was complete and was now with Ashford Borough Council. The Parish Council would need to set up a monitoring group to secure progress on the plan. Copies were available for parishioners on request from Mr Greensted or the Clerk.

The Chairman thanked Mr Greensted on behalf of the Council for his, and his teams, dedicated work in carrying out the task.


14  Biddenden Consolidated Charity

Mr Dearing, Treasurer and Trustee, had sent his apologies but the Clerk read his report and advised that copies of both the report and accounts were available on request.


15 After a refreshment break the following questions/comments were raised by parishioners in discussion.

  • Could the Council look at asking Arriva to improve bus/train connections at Headcorn.
  • Could the Council consider a fenced compound for the refuse sacks placed in the car park prior to collection.  It would look better in this Conservation Area.
  • Mr Carr was concerned that the Standards Board had been called in to investigate allegations by some councillors against other councillors. He did not wish to know the detail but thought it a pity the Council could not solve its differences “in house” as this must divert attention from concentrating on village matters.


16   The meeting closed at 9.30pm.                   Graham Smith, Parish Clerk 01622 890596




Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Councils Annual Parish Meeting which is our opportunity to report to you, the parishioners, on our activities over the past 12 months and in turn an opportunity for you to ask us questions and suggest things you would like us to pursue over the coming year.

Firstly let me introduce the councillors to you in case some of you are not sure who is who. (Introduce going round the table and mention Mr Hill of KCC who may be late)

I will not be giving you a long speech but rather an overview of what has occupied the past 12 months and then ask some of the councillors to speak to you on their special responsibilities.

·        Not surprisingly the major topic over the past year has been the future of the Post Office and although the vast majority of the villagers clearly want the facility retained it has generated some strong views on whether it should be supported and also about the best location. I will ask Georgina Scott who is Chairman of our Post Office Liaison Committee to update you on just where we are with the project but suffice to remind you all that the temporary planning permission for the Portacabin Post Office has just a year left before the building must be removed. In brief we must get on with it!

·        The Council is required to comment on all Planning applications concerning the parish and in the last year we have considered 87 items. Whilst we can make our views known we cannot actually approve or refuse an application – the ultimate decision rests with the Borough Council. Perhaps three schemes are worthy of particular mention,

1        The development at Mill Corner which is now going ahead. The Parish Council did not object to this but did insist on a traffic slowing scheme on the approach from Tenterden. This is now a planning requirement.

2        The proposed extension to the PK produce warehouse in North Street which

we objected to largely on noise and traffic grounds. This has been turned down by Ashford and there is now a proposal for residential development which we believe most parishioners would welcome.

3        The proposal for a low cost housing development at Cheeselands. We

support this but there are issues to be resolved about the “smell levels” from the sewerage plant and of course looking after the resident newt population!

We hope both these issues will be resolved shortly.

·        The Millennium Field and Jubilee Meadow are of course a huge village asset giving us a permanent “green heart” but I will ask Hugh Richards, Chairman of the Millennium Field Committee to tell us what has happened over the past year including the recent proposal for a childrens only footpath from the Millennium Field car park to the school to avoid congestion in the High Street. I will also leave Michael Conway to say a few words about the coming summer fete on the Millennium Field.

·        The Childrens play area is in need of some attention and Brenda Swain will update you on this.

·        John Rymer Jones is our representative on the KAPC and Parish Forum bodies and he will tell you what these bodies do on behalf of Biddenden and all parishes in the county.

Your councillors do work hard on your account but perhaps do not please all of you all the time however I would like to thank them myself and on your behalf.


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