MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE PARISH COUNCIL HELD ON
THURSDAY 12th NOVEMBER 2020
The meeting was held remotely using Zoom software.
The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting.
PRESENT: Cllr. Fletcher (Chairman), Cllrs. Beck, Bunyan, Fairweather (in Part), Fermor, Gilbert, Hartley, Hall, Hatcher, Meewezen, Kings, Pethurst, Smith, Warne and Waters.
Borough Cllr. Dawlings. County & Borough Cllr. Holden (in part).
APOLOGIES: Received from Cllr. Fairweather, he would aim to attend if his training session at the Borough finished in time.
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.
No declarations were made.
93/20: Minutes of the Previous Meeting:
The Chairman proposed that the Minutes of the Meeting held on the 8th October be adopted as a true record. This was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.
94/20: Community Centre/Medical Centre:
Cllr. Gilbert advised Members that the Outline Business Case for the project was still being worked on but was nearly complete. The intention was to call an Extraordinary Meeting in December at which it will be presented to Members. This will allow sufficient time for Members to examine the details thoroughly. It had taken much longer than expected to prepare, as all the details had been backed up by evidence and costings. Expertise was being drawn from the Southborough Hub.
In response to Cllr. Warne, it was confirmed it would include a timeline for the project. The new Deputy Clerk is working on improving how progress on the project is reported through our website.
In response to Cllr. Pethurst, the Chairman confirmed that assuming approval from the Parish Council is forthcoming and the quickest build method is selected, then we are looking at a completion date of Spring 2024.
Cllr. Hall raised several comments regarding the policy for community facilities in the Regulation 14 draft NDP document. She was advised the policy was still in draft form and therefore subject to change. She was encouraged to respond to the draft policy through the NDP consultation process.
Reports from Chair and Committees:
95/20: Chairman’s Report:
The Chairman reported that he had attended the Remembrance Service in St. Dunstan’s, last Wednesday evening and laid wreaths. He had also attended the Drumhead Service at Cranbrook School on the Sunday and laid a wreath there, which has now been moved to the War Memorial. The Royal British Legion, in conjunction with Cranbrook Fencing had erected posts in the Churchyard, holding the stories of the fallen. Some included home addresses, which made them living beings as opposed to names carved in stone.
He had also attended two NALC zoom sessions on life after Covid. Several very relevant questions were posed such as ‘How do you see your council?’ – ‘as a hub, a conduit or a backstop?’ and ‘Do we support change or actively affect change?’
They also asked if we offered opportunities to volunteers and if we had a volunteer pipeline? Did we see the ‘invisible people’ and their issues? He was working with Cllr. Pethurst on a project to map assets, who does what and when do we need to be a hub, a conduit or the backstop?
He reporting having a meeting with Kent Wildlife, about wilding areas and has set up a meeting with Cornfield School, who have bought the redundant Jockey Lane Clinic. They are an independent school providing education to 7 – 17 year olds with special educational needs. They have a school in Ashford which opened in February 2019 and which Ofsted have already rated as ‘good’.
He had attended a Rural Market Towns zoom meeting with Cllr. Pethurst. Links with Biddenden and Tenterden have been made to look at issues outside the Borough.
96/20: Policy & Resources:
Cllr. Beck referred to the minutes of the meeting held on 10th November. He highlighted the discussion on GDPR and asked Members to indicate who would like a specific Parish Council email address? Several Members indicated they would, which the Clerk would follow up on. She was also looking at what domains were available? The existing GDPR Policy was being looked at and revised accordingly. Cllr. Fletcher highlighted the discussion on Carriers Road parking spaces and asked Members to confirm they were happy with the outcome of the discussion. Cllr. Beck proposed adoption of the minutes, this was seconded by Cllr. Smith and agreed. The Clerk reminded the signatories that two of them would need to log in and authorise the payments now the minutes had been adopted.
97/20: Planning & Preservation Management:
Cllr. Smith referred to the meetings held on the 20th October and 3rd November. He highlighted the Turnden application and reported that the Committee had stood by their previous recommendation of refusal, because the revised application had not addressed their concerns. He also reported that they had been granted an extension of time to comment on the seventy Brick Kiln Farm amendments. Various topics had been allocated to different Members to look at. The application had been deferred until the next meeting
In response to Cllr. Hall, Cllr. Smith confirmed he had been registered to speak on the site in Common Road, adjacent to the School, at the Borough Planning Committee meeting next week.
98/20: Properties and Burial Grounds:
Cllr. Gilbert gave a report of the meeting held on 27th October, highlighting the discussions on the budget and Five-Year Plan. The Committee had decided not to increase the Vestry Hall fees to encourage users to return when restrictions are lifted. Burial fees were increased to ensure we can continue to provide the facilities and standards parishioners expect in our Cemeteries. We still had some of the lowest rates in the area. Cllr. Gilbert proposed adoption of the minutes, this was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed.
99/20: Environmental Management:
The Clerk advised the next meeting was scheduled for 24th November; the agenda would be circulated next week.
100/20: Neighbourhood Development Plan:
Cllr. Warne gave a precis of the meeting held 26th October and updated Members on how the consultation was going. Richard Eastham is undertaking an analysis of the comments received so far. She has scheduled a meeting with the Steering Group to see if they can do anymore to encourage responses.
She also has a meeting scheduled with Debbie Dixon and Stephen Baughen of TWBC to discuss employment opportunities in the Parish and with Cranbrook School to discuss a strategy for their sites.
She reported that she had submitted a response to the Government’s White Paper ‘Planning for the Future’ on behalf of the NDP Steering Group.
Cllr. Hatcher encouraged all Members to respond individually to the Draft Regulation 14 consultation as we could not expect parishioners to take the time to respond if Members failed to do so. Apparently, the average time to complete the online response form is 24 minutes.
Cllr. Warne proposed adoption of the minutes, this was seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and agreed.
101/20: Reports from Delegates:
The Chairman advised that he had received an email confirming there was no report in respect of the Tourism Group, Transport Accessibility Group and Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group this month.
Cllr. Warne reported that she had attended the AGM on 21st October. They have a new member appointed to the board of Trustees, Julie Simpson. None of the usual activities have been allowed to go ahead this year so the board are hoping to increase the value of vouchers given out for Christmas, to spread a little extra joy. Many people have suffered due to the lack of social interaction this year. In care homes, common rooms had been closed and residents confined to their own rooms. Hartley House had constructed a ‘visitor booth’ to facilitate relatives visiting their loved ones, which has been hugely successful. Cllr. Waters enquired as to whether the Vestry Hall kitchen could be used to prepare meals for the elderly. It was agreed she would contact Revd. Ann and Ronnie Summers to discuss how we could support those who would benefit from a hot meal.
Members agreed that we need take lessons from what we have learnt over this past year and decide what the Community needs from us now and in the future.
Cllr. Smith reported that they are inundated with enquiries due in part to the pandemic. The Policy & Resources Committee had awarded a grant of £1,000 with an invitation to come back before the end of the financial year and if we had any surplus in allocated funds, we would consider an additional grant. He also advised their head office in Tunbridge Wells was moving to Royal Victoria Place.
Cllr. Bunyan advised that there had not been any meetings. Cllr. Hatcher has prompted the Committee to respond to the NDP consultation.
102/20: Clerk’s Report:
The Clerk reported that she had circulated the latest area report from the PSCO, via email today. She also asked Members to let her know if they wanted to attend the KALC AGM, she had circulated the invitation and supporting paperwork to all Members on 20th October and as yet had not received any responses. Attendees are required to register by 20th November.
There was no correspondence which required reporting.
104/20: Reports from County and Borough Councillors:
a) Cllr. Dawlings reported on the Borough Council’s finances. The Government have announced the help available for businesses which will be administered by TWBC. The details should be published on the Borough’s website tomorrow. Meetings have been held with Citizen’s Advice so they can understand the processes involved in dealing with Council Tax Support and the enforcement measures in place. At the end of September, the Borough had reduced its previous monthly losses from circa £1m to £500K, it had been hoped that it would be reduced again to around £250K by the end of the year. Due to the 2nd lockdown this is now almost certainly unachievable. This year the Government are compensating councils for their losses, however there has been no information from Central Government as to whether this will continue next year. At the moment the Borough can support the losses from reserves. They are in a better position than most. He heard today that Croydon had issued a Section 114 Notice declaring insolvency and he felt many more would follow. In response to Cllr. Fletcher, he advised there was no risk to parish precepts.
In response to a question asked by Cllr. Smith on business grants, it was agreed that Cllr. Hatcher would create a link to TWBC’s site on our website so businesses could be directed to where they can find information and apply. The Chairman thanked Cllr. Dawlings for all his work in helping local businesses.
b) Cllr Warne reported that she had spent a great deal of time with the Planning Policy Working Group as TWBC’s Planning Department were under pressure to get the Local Plan out by the end of the year.
c) Cllr. Hall advised she was in the process of investigating rural broadband speeds as they inadequate. It would be hugely appreciated if Members could email her their own broadband speeds to allow for area comparisons. She felt it hugely important to aid the revival of the economy. Cllr. Hatcher advised that if Members visit www.speedtest.net it is very easy to establish what your broadband speed is.
d) Cllr. Fairweather was pleased to report that all the Borough’s committee meetings including those held in the evening had now resumed. He also advised that he had just come out of a very interesting training session on the Code of Conduct.
e) County and Borough Cllr. Holden reported that he would be chairing the County Council’s most successful gathering online since lockdown began, with the ‘Kent Plan Bee’ launch of the official Pollinator Action Plan. All 250 places have been taken and there is a waiting list.
He also attended a meeting today in response to residents’ concerns over the parking issues at the Park Lane entrance to Bedgebury Forest. Discussion with Forestry England is ongoing to come up with a suitable solution.
He was sad to see the Leisure Centre in Cranbrook had been forced to close again and was unsure of the impact this second lockdown would have on its future.
105/20: Items for Information:
a) Cllr. Fermor advised everyone that the next edition of Parish Cake was due out at the beginning of December. The Chairman thanked her for all her work on the magazine.
b) Cllr. Waters advised she would be decorating the tree sponsored by the Parish Council in St. Dunstan’s Church and she really would like to add all the councillor’s pictures to the salt dough baubles she had made, just for a bit of fun.
Some members felt a caricature would be more appropriate and better received. Cllr. Waters was happy to see if this would be possible in the time frame. The Wealden Times were loaning the Church their Christmas tree stands for the project. She also reported that Val Mummery would be sponsoring the Town Christmas Tree this year, in memory of her husband Phil.
c) In response to the question from Cllr. Bunyan, the Chairman reported the figures of local Covid cases from the Government website.
The meeting was closed.
Members of the public present were asked if they had any questions? None were raised.