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Minutes of the meeting held in the Old Village Hall on January 10th 2006
Cllr P Whapham – Chairman Cllr M Conway
Cllr Mrs E Cansdale – Vice Chairman Cllr C Friend
Cllr Mrs J Ashcroft Cllr H Richards
Cllr Mrs R Ashton Cllr Mrs G Scott
Cllr R Brown Cllr Mrs B Swain
Apology for absence Cllr J Rymer Jones.
Cllr N Bell, Ashford Borough Council and 37 parishioners were present.
1 There were no alterations to the members Register of Interests
2 Items raised by parishioners present
Messrs Linnett and Gaertner had concerns as to whether Cllr Mrs Scott could vote in the forthcoming item on the location of the Post Office. The Chairman noted this but did not share their views.
Mr Linnett said he was still unhappy that Cllr Mrs Scott’s “errors” as a result of the Standards Board report of 18th October 2005 had not been minuted. The Chairman said he felt the minutes recorded the finality of the investigation and they also drew attention to the fact that the whole report could be viewed on the Board’s website. In addition the Clerk could supply a “hard copy” if required. The Chairman said he felt this issue had been exhausted and the Council should now “move on”.
3 Minutes of the meeting held on December 13th 2005
These were signed by the Chairman.
As regards minute 4 Cllr Brown said he felt he had nothing to apologise for as he had not named Cllr Richards but only referred to “a councillor and another person”. The Chairman said he had received a letter from Cllr Brown to this effect and as mentioned above felt that the Council should “move on” and concentrate on substantive matters for the parish.
Also reference minute 4 the Clerk reported that an “odd job man” (Mr Ron King) had been recruited and had already carried out some minor works. He had investigated the bus shelter by The Weavers and it was in need of substantial roof repairs. The Council was happy for him to carry out the repairs as this would clearly be cheaper than a new bus shelter.
4 Post Office
Cllrs Mrs Ashton and Brown declared prejudicial interests and left the meeting. Cllr Mrs Scott declared a non prejudicial interest and said she would take part in the discussion and vote.
Cllr Mrs Scott referred to the paper prepared
by the Post Office Liaison Committee which had been circulated earlier to all
councillors and would be happy to discuss any issues raised. She confirmed that
the architects for the proposed toilet conversion/new toilets had recommended
the cheapest tender received as being the best and the paper was on this
For 2 North Street
· Little “up front” cost to the village
· Convenient for large part of the village without crossing the main road
· Post Office and Turners Stores would both benefit, tradewise, by being adjacent to each other
For the toilet conversion option
· Ease of parking (particularly for parishioners outside the core of the village) had increased Post Office business
· More floor space available for Post Office sales and customers waiting
· Provision of new modern toilets
On the subject of costs the Chairman said that in the past the Council had spent many £ thousands buying community assets like the Millennium Field and Jubilee Meadow and in this case it had been via a long term loan which the council would still be paying over the next 20 years. In the Post Office case the proposal was to spend the available money now and have no long term debts. Taking a 25 year view the cost of the proposal compared with the rent payable for 2 North Street was roughly equal and if the proposal was adopted the Council would be left with an asset, but if 2 North Street was adopted the Council would have no asset to show for its expenditure.
The Chairman said the matter should now be put to the vote and Cllr Mrs Scott proposed
“that the Parish Council adopts the Biddenden Post Office
Liaison Committee’s recommendation to convert the existing public conveniences
to a building suitable for use as a Post Office and to build new public
Cllrs Mrs Cansdale, Friend, Mrs Scott and Whapham voted in favour.
Cllrs Mrs Ashcroft, Conway, Mrs Swain and Richards voted against.
The Chairman used his casting vote in favour of the proposal and so it was carried.
(Most parishioners left the meeting at this point.)
5 Traffic and Pedestrians Committee.
Cllr Friend said he had arranged a first meeting of the committee for January 26th.
Initial members would be Messrs Friend, Gaertner, Ridge, Whitestone and Wingham.
6 Millennium Field and Jubilee Meadow Committee.
Cllr Richards said three quotes had been received for the construction of the path from the MF car park to the school and they would decide which one to accept once quality checks and length of work had been established. The section of the path within the school boundary would be dealt with by the school as they would want a tarmac surface rather than a rolled stone surface as across the Jubilee Meadow. It was agreed that the work should go ahead as soon as possible.
7 Report from Cllr Bell, Ashford BC
Cllr Bell said Ashford BC was committed to keeping Council Tax rises as low as possible and to this end the rise for the coming year would be 5%. This rise was from a lower base than many other local authorities.
Cllr Richards declared an interest and left at this point.
Cllr Bell said that government policy was strongly in favour of good mobile communications and so the Borough Council would only object to a proposal if it thought the objection would not be overturned on appeal – as most were. He had met “3G” to discuss their overall aims in the parish which were sites at Holden Farm, Pullen Barn Farm and Olivers Foods. The Holden Farm site was the most controversial and for it to be rejected a good alternative had to be suggested. All parishioners would be welcome to submit their alternative ideas.
8 Reports from lead councillors and the Clerk
Cllr Mrs Ashcroft said she had received the KCC Highways January “shopping list” of road items, to complete.
Cllr Mrs Swain said she hoped to have a report on desirable improvements to the children’s play area by the next meeting.
Cllr Mrs Cansdale said she would be attending a meeting of the Rural Housing Trust on January 17th. She also reported that the Youth Club restarts on January 18th.
The Clerk reported that he had completed his “Quality” portfolio and it would be sent for marking this week.
In view of the proposed Post Office expenditure Cllrs Mrs Ashton and Brown declared a prejudicial interest and left the meeting for the budget discussion..
The Clerk presented the budget proposals for 2006-7 explaining that they were broadly similar to last year and were equal to about 40p per resident per week for all the parish council services. Cllr Richards said he thought the precept at £47,000 (£50,000 last year) was still too high.
Cllr Conway proposed and Cllr Mrs Cansdale seconded that the budget be accepted.
All councillors agreed.
Councillors confirmed they did not wish to enter for the “Kent Village of the Year” competition.
12 Items for future consideration.
The Chairman read a letter from Cllr Rymer Jones expressing concerns about the potential growth of Biddenden as part of Ashford BC having to accept a large increase in housing development. It was agreed that a separate meeting on this important topic would be held in March when Cllr Rymer Jones would be available.
13 Next meeting.
February 14th. NB The Annual Parish Meeting has been booked for April 18th.
The meeting closed at 9.30pm Graham Smith, Parish Clerk, 01622 890596
Decisions received from Ashford Borough Council:
05/01637 Golden Fleece Farm, Tenterden Rd. Two storey side extension. Granted.
05/01897 4 Woolpack Cottages, Benenden Rd. Two storey side extension. Withdrawn.
FC149/05 Tole Wood. Fell 25 oaks and coppice. No objection.
TC05/00157 West Wing, Old Cloth Hall. Minor tree works. No objection.
04/00160 Great Omenden Farm, Pook Lane. New farm bungalow. Appeal on 12.01.06
The Council’s Planning Group did not meet in December as there were no items to consider.
Items to be considered by the full council:
05/02082/83 41 North Street. Extension and alterations. No objections
05/02110/11 Bettmans Oast, Hareplain Rd. Erection of conservatory. No objections
£684.35 S Keen, Lengthsman. £368 Wages and £316.35 Tax Credit until 19.01.06
After 19.01.06 Tax Credit is paid by the Inland Revenue direct. 1637
£444.67 G Smith, Clerk, Salary 1638
£21.98 M Conway. Christmas gift to Mr Bridgland for Millennium Field work. 167
£58.00 Biddenden Club House. Hire of village hall for October, November, December 2005. 1639
£58.52 Staples, Stationery 1640
£480.10 Mid Kent Water. (13.06.05 to 07.12.05) 1641
£68.15 Price Whitehead. Detailed plans of MF and JM for DeFRA payments 168
£3235.37 Public Works Loan Board. MF and JM repayments. (Direct Debit)
The following monies have been received:
£265.05 Rural Payments Agency. Stewardship grant
As at 30 December 2005 the Council has funds of £113,336 of
which £10,741 “belong to” the Millennium Field account but are lodged in the
Reserve Account for interest purposes.
1 KCC Highways. Local work required schedule for January. Passed to
2 Action with Communities in Rural Kent. “Kent Village of the Year.”
Do we wish to enter? (Decision “No”)
3 KCC. Kent and Medway Structure Plan. Further consultation on proposed modifications due by 16.02.06.
4 Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Standards of Conduct in English Local Government. Discussion paper (actually a book!)
5 KCC. Definitive map statement of byway over Headcorn Airfield
6 Kent Police. New command arrangements for the Weald.
7 Oast to Coast – Winter 2005 edition (Passed to Cllr Conway)
8 Kent and Medway NHS. Consultation document on new Strategic Health Authority and Primary Care trust arrangements.