PRESENT: Cllr. Fletcher (Chairman), Cllrs. Beck, Bunyan, Gilbert, Hartley, Hatcher, Pethurst and Rampling.
APOLOGIES: Cllrs. Dyke, Fairweather, Fermor, Kings, Smith, Warne and Waters. Borough Cllr. Dawlings.
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.
129/21: Minutes of the Previous Meeting to be confirmed:
The Chairman proposed the Minutes of the Meeting held on the 9th December be adopted as a true record, this was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.
130/21: Community Centres/Medical Centre:
Cllr. Gilbert reported that Baxall Construction, who are helping us to cost the project, are in the process of going back to their suppliers for up-to-date material costs. Cllr. Pethurst asked if we had any idea of the impact of escalating material costs on the project? Cllr. Gilbert advised the Outline Business Case has an overall build cost; material costs were not specified. However, it will still require updating. The review of costs is expected sometime in February.
131/21: Precept Demand:
Cllr. Fletcher proposed that the precept demand be set at £372,956 for 20222/2023, this was seconded by Cllr. Beck and agreed.
132/21: Public Toilets:
Cllr. Gilbert referred to the itemised quotes that had been circulated to all Members. He explained that the cost of opening the ladies, which could be used as unisex and the disabled toilet would be in the region of £8,000. This included a small contingency for any unforeseen costs. Daily cleaning costs of approximately £150 per week would also need to be factored in.
We were also awaiting an additional quote for an automatic locking system. These costs did not include any refurbishment to the exterior fabric of the building, other than what is necessary to make them operational. Belle Vue School had offered to paint a mural and tidy up the outside as a community project for their pupils. In response to Cllr. Hatcher, Cllr. Gilbert advised this did not include any work on the mosaic, Cranbrook in Bloom’s offer to relocate what remains of the seat, had already been accepted.
Cllr. Gilbert also explained this was a temporary solution until the developer of the Wilkes Field housing site begins work as it is anticipated the public sewer will need to be diverted at that point. It is estimated that will be in 12-18 months from now. Cllr. Pethurst queried if the expenditure was appropriate for such a short period of time? Cllr. Hartley felt a clever adaption of the disabled toilet in the Parish Office, to allow access when the office is closed should be considered. He offered to take a look at the space to see if there are any viable options.
Members considered the ongoing cost of vandalism. The Chairman is looking into the possibility of having a field shelter erected in the Crane Valley, which he believes may provide an alternative facility for young people to use, as opposed to using the public toilets. He will bring forward a proposal for this at the next meeting.
All Members agreed that any money spent on bringing the toilets back into use, should be communicated to parishioners. Cllr. Bunyan suggested that not locking them at night may result in less damage occurring.
Cllr. Gilbert proposed we accept the quote to recommission the ladies, making them unisex and the disabled toilet. This was seconded by Cllr. Hatcher. There were six votes in favour, one against and one abstention. The Chairman thanked Cllr. Gilbert for all his hard work on finding a solution.
133/21: Street Naming Request:
Members had been forwarded the emails detailing all the suggestions put forward. They were all given a voting slip and asked to write their top three choices. The Clerks agreed to collate the responses and send the most favoured suggestions to Berkeley Homes.
Cllr. Bunyan suggested we have a list of names with a local connection, held on file that we can call upon, when we are asked for recommendations.
134/21: Chairman’s Report:
The Chairman reported he had given a presentation on our contribution to Climate Change at a KALC training event. He spoke on our Eco Design Guide, the installation of the electric vehicle charge points in Jockey Lane and about the planting of the spinney on the Ball Field, all of which were well received. He also spoke about plans to preserve the green wedge around Mount Ephraim and the other side of the Crane Valley. There is also some very interesting work on Climate Change being done in the Canterbury area.
He also advised he had been in discussion with Cllr. Hatcher and Helen Grant M.P regarding the closure of HWA and had been advised the Judicial Review had failed. He had also been in discussions with Cranbrook primary schools, Cranbrook School and the Tom Attwood Trust. Mr Attwood has said that if can evidence that 150 pupils a year could be fed into a non-selective secondary school, he will help us approach the Department of Education. The latest Kent County Council Education Plan does not include any allowance for the increase in housing. The local catchment area is 300 squaremiles and contains 12 primary schools which produce 300 pupils a year that will need secondary education. We would need 50% to go to make a new school viable. He has a meeting scheduled with Cranbrook School to agree a text that can be circulated to all primary and pre-primary schools in the catchment area.
The Chairman referred to the Future Vision document he had circulated to Members. He said the closure of HWA will have a huge impact on the community. He listed the three main projects we need to get behind, to ensure a cohesive community going forward. The Community/Medical Centre affects everyone in the wider community. The new sports pavilion is essential, the junior football club recently launched is already oversubscribed. A school created for 1050 pupils needs to be better utilised than as a school for 100 pupils with special needs. We have a community but we need to nurture it and find the people who can help the community achieve these goals.
Members agreed further exploration is necessary and this could be seen as a ‘call to action’ for the community. The Chairman agreed to schedule a working group meeting for all Members to attend and discuss a future vision for the Parish.
Reports from Committees:
135/21: Policy & Resources:
Cllr. Fletcher referred to the meeting held on the 11th January and highlighted the item for information regarding the proposed changes to the electoral boundaries in Tunbridge Wells Borough, being considered by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England. The changes will have a significant impact on the rural area so he had asked the Clerk to include the link to the consultation in the minutes and encouraged everyone to respond individually.
Cllr. Hatcher referred to item 86/21 (c) and reiterated that anyone wishing to join in on the zoom meeting with the new website designer, should let him know.
The Chairman proposed adoption of the minutes, this was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.
136/21: Planning & Preservation:
Cllr. Bunyan referred to the two meetings held, highlighting the application on the Bringloe Field, on which the Committee recommended refusal. The reason had been some fundamental concerns and numerous unanswered questions, many of which had also been raised by the Planning Authority. Apparently TWBC have suggested to the developer, that they withdraw the current application, so amendments can be made without incurring any additional fees.
137/21: Properties & Burial Grounds:
Cllr. Gilbert advised the next meeting was scheduled for the 25th January 2022.
138/21: Economic & Community:
Cllr. Hatcher advised the next meeting would be held in March.
139/21: Environmental Management:
The Chairman reported the new play equipment on the Ball Field was in the process of being installed. The Clerk stated that we hope to have the handover completed sometime next week.
140/21: Neighbourhood Development Plan:
Cllr. Pethurst advised there had been no recent meeting.
141/21: Delegate Reports:
a) Tourism Group
Cllr. Hatcher advised he had been sent the minutes of the most recent meeting, which he would forward to the Clerk for circulation to all Members.
b) Hop Picker’s Line Heritage Group:
The next meeting of the Group will take place on the 25th January at Goudhurst Village Hall.
Cllr. Bunyan invited questions following circulation of the minutes of the meeting held on 24th November. None were raised.
The Chairman invited Cllr. Hartley to comment on the Providence Chapel, as joint owner of the property. Cllr. Hartley advised a meeting had been held with TWBC, architects from English Heritage and a consultant. Some progress has been achieved. It is to be marketed as a test to see if there is a potential buyer who could use it without alteration. Assuming a buyer is not identified, he will ask the Borough to consider the scheme that he has already presented to them informally, but which causes significant harm to the heritage value of the asset. He believes pressure will be put on the Parish Council to take an interest in the property.
d) Citizen’s Advice Bureau:
Cllr. Hatcher advised he has made contact with the new interim regional manager to discuss the plans for the service going forward.
e) Katherine Elisabeth Wood Charity:
Cllr. Hatcher advised he has been appointed as the new Chairman, following the resignation of Rev. Ann Pollington.
142/21: Clerk’s Report:
a) The Clerk reported that we had been unsuccessful in our challenge to have the rateable value of the Parish Office reduced.
b) We have been informed that we will be receiving a grant of £329.02 following an application to the Covid 19 Contain Outbreak Management Fund for costs incurred between 1st November 2020 and 31st March 2022 towards preventing or containing the spread of Covid 19.
The Clerk reported that we had received correspondence relating to a complaint that was discussed at the Environmental Management meeting in November. It does not require a response and has been filed in the office should any member wish to read it.
144/21: Borough & County Councillor Reports:
a) The Chairman advised he had received an email from Cllr. Dawlings, in which he states he will support Cranbrook & Sissinghurst Parish Council in every way he can; on secondary education in Cranbrook, on the Community Centre, on the Rugby Club and on all matters where he has some influence with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, for example with the Weald Sports Centre and Tourism.
145/21: Items for Information:
a) Cllr. Hatcher expressed his thanks to everyone that had supported the CODS pantomime this year. There had been four performances in total and was well attended, especially when considering current circumstances.
b) Cllr. Bunyan had been asked to pass on a request to the Parish Council, to plant an avenue of trees in Sissinghurst to commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
c) The Chairman advised the small leafed lime tree, purchased to commemorate the Platinum Jubilee has been planted on the Ball Field. It was expected the oak purchased for Sissinghurst would be planted next week.
The Meeting was closed.