Draft Full Council Minutes 11th November 2021

MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE PARISH COUNCIL HELD IN THE COUNCIL CHAMBER, CRANBROOK ON THURSDAY 11th NOVEMBER 2021

PRESENT: Cllr. Fletcher (Chairman), Cllrs. Beck, Bunyan, Dyke, Fairweather, Gilbert, Hatcher, Hartley, Kings, Pethurst, Rampling, Smith, Warne and Waters

APOLOGIES: Cllrs. Fermor, Kings and Borough Councillor Dawlings

Declaration of Interests, Dispensations and Predetermination:

The Chairman read out the following statement:

Members are required to declare any interests, dispensations or predetermination on items on this agenda in accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct. Members are reminded that changes to the Register of Interests should be notified to the Clerk. The meeting is routinely recorded as a clerk’s aid.

99/21: Minutes of the Previous Meeting to be confirmed:

The Chairman Proposed the Minutes of the Meeting held on the 14th October be adopted as a true record. Cllr. Warne referred to item 91/21 and requested a change of wording from ‘Regulation 16’ to Draft regulation 15’. With these changes the proposal for adoption was seconded by Cllr. Beck, and agreed.

100/21: Community Centres/Medical Centre:

The Chairman invited questions in relation to a draft article that had been circulated to Members prior to the meeting, which will appear in the next edition of The Cake. Cllr. Pethurst asked for clarification relating to ‘the design must use the topography and we hope to utilise this to the best advantage’. Cllr Gilbert explained that he will be looking for an architectural design that uses the slope of the land to the best advantage and most economically, including maximising the outside space, paths and entrances on different levels, and cutting into the slope. Referring to part of the article that mentions seating for 120 people, Cllr. Pethurst asked what the capacity of Vestry Hall is. Cllr. Waters confirmed that it is 100 seated. Cllr. Pethurst also enquired as to the timeline of the project. Cllr. Gilbert estimated 3 years.

101/21: St Dunstan’s sponsoring of a Christmas Tree:

The Chairman referred to an email inviting the Parish Council to sponsor a tree for charity at St Dunstan’s Christmas Tree Festival. He proposed sponsoring an 8ft tree, costing £50. This was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed. Cllr. Hatcher suggested Cllr. Waters approach CODS who may also be interested in sponsoring a tree.

102/21: Chairman’s Report:

The Chairman reported on the latest update regarding the High Weald Academy (HWA) closure. Following the listening period, and considering all of the evidence, the Secretary of State for Education has approved the final closure plan. Helen Grant MP recently announced that legal aid has been secured for a judicial review, and over £6200 has been raised from the community via GoFundMe.

He reported that local sports clubs had come together for a meeting to generate ideas on how the facilities at the HWA could be used by the community for sport. He has written to the Leigh Academies property department asking for a further meeting to talk through the ideas raised by the clubs.

He reported that County Councillor Seán Holden had informed him children starting at a new school prior to the final HWA closure date can now claim for new school uniform. Parents are required to pay the costs up front and claim reimbursement. This could provide issues for some families as a set of new uniform costs around £400.00.

KCC are not funding transport for students that have already left HWA as it is still currently their nearest school. Councillor Holden is challenging this decision, however no change to date.

He reported that TWBC have relinquished the lease they had on the Co-op land, the slope between the skate ramp and the Co-op building itself.

Unfortunately, there has been another tree broken in the spinney. A silver birch. The original sponsor has kindly offered to replace it.

Historically Cranbrook ran a competition for the Best Dressed Christmas Shop Window. There used to be a trophy cup, however the whereabouts of the cup are no longer known. The Chairman asked for a show of hands to gauge an interest in resurrecting the competition. All were in favour.

He reported that the Revd. Ann Pollington had announced her retirement on Tuesday 1st March 2022. There has been a fall in church attendance and a meeting is planned on the 8th of December in St Dunstan’s to discuss the future of the church. If anyone wished to attend the meeting starts at 7pm.

Reports from Committees:

103/21: Policy & Resources:

Cllr. Beck referred the meeting held 9th November and proposed adoption of the minutes. This was seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed.

104/21: Planning & Preservation:

Cllr. Smith referred to the minutes of the meetings held on 19th October and 2nd November. He highlighted Brick Kiln Farm reserved matters from the 2nd November meeting. The committee had recommended a neutral decision as although improvements have been made, the committee felt further could be done in relation to Vehicular Access, Attenuation Basin, Public open space & play area, Energy and Appearance. Full details can be found in the minutes.

105/21: Properties & Burial Grounds:

Cllr. Gilbert referred to the minutes of the meeting held on 26th October. Seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed.

106/21: Economic & Community:

Cllr. Hatcher advised that the next meeting is 22nd November 2021. He is still collating information from the IT/web providers he has approached.

107/21: Environmental Management:

The next meeting is 30th November.

108/21: Neighbourhood Development Plan:

Next meeting 22nd November.

109/21: Delegate Reports:

a) Age Concern:

Cllr. Warned reported that she had attended a meeting. There are new trustees in place, and lots of great ideas. They have a website in development. There will be a relaunch in January. They already have plans in place for a coffee morning in Vestry Hall on Tuesdays, and lunch at the primary school on Wednesdays.

b) Tourism Group:

Cllr. Hatcher advised the next meeting is at the end of the month.

c) CCAAC:

Cllr. Bunyan advised CCAAC would be next meeting on the 24th of November.

d) CAB:

Cllr. Hatcher enquired who he should speak to regarding taking over the role as CAB delegate. Cllr Smith will forward the details to Cllr. Hatcher.

e) History Society:

Cllr. Pethurst advised that the next meeting is planned for 17th November, and that the museum continue to acquire Cranbrook Colony items, and the collection continues to grow.

f) Transport Accessibility Group:

The Chairman advised that there will be no further reports on this group until such a time it is decided to restart the meetings.

g) Hop Picker’s Line Heritage Group:

The Chairman read out the following report:

The next meeting of the Group will include the Annual General Meeting and will take place at the Village Hall, Goudhurst in the 16th November commencing at 1.30pm. This meeting will be followed by a regular meeting of the group.

110/21: Clerk’s Report:

Nothing to report.

111/21: Correspondence:

There was no correspondence to report.

112/21: Borough Councillor Reports:

a) Cllr. Warne reported that the local plan was submitted for examination on 1st November, with an estimated time line of March/April next year. Cllr. Bunyan enquired if it contained any amendments following the recent loss of a non-selective secondary school in Cranbrook. Cllr. Warne explained that because there is capacity in other schools within the borough it was considered unnecessary to change the Settlement Role & Function Study. Final adoption is unlikely to be until Spring 2023.

b) Cllr. Fairweather reported that the councils carbon emissions have been reduced by 43%, further improvements will come from energy efficiency of council owned buildings.

Recycling rates continue to increase, despite the shortage of HGV drivers. Key waste and recycling services have been maintained.

Many of the borough’s parks and green space, including the Ball Filed in Cranbrook, have been successful in winning awards this year.

The council has awarded over £50 million in grants to business in the borough that were prevented from trading during lock-down.

Plans continue to make use of the surplus space in the town hall for co-working, to support small and developing businesses, and increase footfall in town centre.

Investment has been secured to replace all gym equipment in Fusion leisure centres by the end of the year, including at Cranbrook.

TWBC continue to see success with the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy. At current count there are zero rough sleepers in Tunbridge Wells borough. Numbers do fluctuate, but as soon as an issue is identified the housing team implement actions required. The Russel Hotel in Tunbridge Wells opened its doors during Covid, and through the TWBC housing department all rough sleepers are now housed.

 Reroofing of Town Hall and Assembly Hall is underway. Improving insulation and installing solar panels.

Green waste collection – it took approximately two weeks to clear the bins for Monday collections. They have now initiated Tuesday collections; it is estimated this will take approximately two weeks to clear.

c) Cllr. Dawlings

The Chairman read out a precis from an email Cllr. Dawlings had sent:

HWA Closure – It was the Departments of Educations decision, and was out of the hands of KCC. For this area, KCC have a very large catchment area for secondary schools (which includes Tenterden) within which school surpluses and shortfalls balance out. I understand the reasons that gave rise to the closure decision but not the failure to address the falling roll. There were lots of lots of wrongs in the past (not addressing the cause of the falling roll or putting in place measures to secure improvement which were not solved by spending £12m on new facilities – and what was the business case for that investment?). Leigh Academy Trust just seems to be filling the schools it controls with pupils from HWA (and next year will fill the HWA in turn with SEN pupils from their other schools) all with little regard for journey times to school or for the community in the Cranbrook School catchment area. What I think is needed is to have both a selective and a non-selective secondary school in Cranbrook for the pupils from the Primary Schools in the Cranbrook School catchment area – but, having announced and confirmed the closure of the HWA, I just don’t see how this is going to be achieved.  I worry this is a lost cause. 

Turnden – The Inquiry has now closed.  The inspector will now prepare a report for the Secretary of State.  No indication of when the report is expected or when the decision might be made.  

Other planning matters.  I have pursued two other planning matters which I discovered that Nancy had also pursued where trees were being felled in Freight Lane and close to the old railway track.  In both instance the Tree Officer attended the sites.  Of course, people suspect sites were being cleared for development but in neither case had there been any approach to TWBC.

Pleasant View – I am still getting calls and emails from neighbours about the residents of Pleasant View.  I plan to ask for a meeting with the Chief Executive of Town & Country Housing.

d) Cllr Holden

The Chairman read out notes from a telephone conversation with Cllr. Holden prior to the meeting:

KCC are taking over the Moving Traffic offences enabling them to check the weights of lorries on B roads, and impose fines.

KCC are holding an online summit for planning on November 24th.

113/21: Items for Information:

a) Cllr. Pethurst reported that The Ball Field had won gold following its entry in South East in Bloom Competition. He thanked Marion Cranmer for producing the portfolio which he believes helped secure the win.

b) Cllr. Bunyan asked for more information on the problems at Brambling Gardens. Cllrs. Fairweather and Smith had recently meet with the residents.  Signs near the front of the development have been removed, allowing the public access to the footpaths and public spaces. There has been severe flooding issues on the estate. The road has recently had to be resurfaced. It was suggested that the parish council should aim to have a representative on management committees on future developments.

c) Cllr. Smith highlighted that Fernham Homes are hosting a second online consultation on Saturday. Anyone wishing to attend should visit their website for joining instructions. They are planning an event in the hall, details to follow.

The Meeting was closed.

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