Full Council 8th July 21

MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE PARISH COUNCIL HELD IN THE VESTRY HALL, CRANBROOK ON THURSDAY 8th JULY 2021

PRESENT: Cllr. Fletcher (Chairman), Cllrs. Beck, Bunyan, Fairweather, Fermor, Gilbert, Hatcher, Kings, Pethurst, Smith, Warne and Borough Cllr. Dawlings. Cllrs. Dyke and Rampling (newly co-opted).

APOLOGIES: Cllrs. Waters & Hartley

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.

37/21: Minutes of the Previous Meeting to be confirmed:

The Chairman proposed that the Minutes of the Meeting held on the 10th June be adopted as a true record.  This was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.

38/21: Co-Option of Parish Councillor’s

Following the resignation of Carl Meewezen and Linda Hall, two vacancies had arisen on the Parish Council. Due process had been followed, no call for an election had been made. The casual vacancies had been advertised.There had been four expressions of interest received. Cllr. Fletcher thanked all four candidates for putting their names forward. They were asked to speak for three to four minutes and to include what they saw as the three main challenges the Parish Council face and what they thought they could bring to the role. All the candidates spoke eloquently and passionately about Cranbrook & Sissinghurst.

Members were issued with ballot papers and asked to indicate whom they would like to co-opt for one vacancy. The vote was counted by the Clerks, who advised the Chair that Linda Dyke was the successful candidate; she was invited to sign the Declaration of Acceptance of Office and took a place at the table. The process was repeated for the second vacancy, Kevin Rampling was the successful candidate; he was invited to sign the Declaration of Acceptance of Office and took a place at the table.

Cllr. Fletcher congratulated the newly co-opted members. He also thanked the other two candidates for the interest that they had shown, and hoped that when a position arises in future, they would come forward again.

39/21: Community Centre/Medical Centre:

Cllr. Gilbert advised that there is nothing to report regarding feedback from GPs/WKCCG. More feedback from the community on room size requirements had been received. 

Cllr. Pethurst enquired if a ‘letter of comfort’ had been received from the CCG, and if fundraising had commenced. Cllr. Gilbert responded that the letter from the CCG had not yet been received, but once received plans will be drawn up, and fundraising will begin.

Cllr. Bunyan enquired if architects would be asked to give ideas prior to awarding contract. Cllr. Gilbert confirmed this would happen, and a competition could be considered.

40/21: Public Toilet Provision:

Cllr. Fletcher highlighted that the subject had been discussed at length at the recent Policy & Resources Committee meeting. He opened up the topic for further debate. Cllr. Gilbert reported that a meeting with Four Jays (specialists in temporary toilets) had taken place that morning, to discuss options, costings and practicality of siting of temporary toilets in Carriers Road. He confirmed that water, power and waste services would be required. Planning permission would not be needed as it would be considered a temporary building, and an existing sewar would be utilised.

Reopening of the old public toilets has been discussed. The developers of the old engineering site will be closing the sewar 6 months post building commencing. They developers have been asked to provide an estimated date when this will happen.

Opening the toilet at the Parish office had been considered, but discounted as alterations on the listed building would be required to improve disabled access, and opening hours would be as per office hours.

Cllr. Pethurst suggested the Co-op could host the temporary toilets, as the consistent public presence would deter vandalism. Cllr Fletcher agreed this was a good idea and offered to approach the Co-op to open discussions.

Reports from Chair and Committees:

41/21: Chairman’s Report

The Chairman reported that he had met with MP Helen Grant to ask for a strategic review of anti-social behaviour and its causes, and what can be done about it. An initial multi-agency meeting has been set up for July 16th. A report will be given next month.

Cranbrook in Bloom ran a successful Garden Safari, selling well over 250 tickets, even though the weather was very unkind. Cranbrook was buzzing that day.

Cllr. Garry Pethurst and Ivor Hatcher (Parish Warden) showed the South East in Bloom judges round the Ball Field for the ‘Park of the Year’ award. Marion Cranmer produced an extensive document on the history, usage and upkeep of the field, which he commends to councillors, and thanked her for the time it took to put together. Cllr. Pethurst extended his thanks Cllr. Fermor and Linda Page for their efforts.

‘Cranbrook Together’ is a ‘Zoom’ group of concerned local businesses and ‘activists’ who chat monthly, which he attends. It is chaired by Philip Crocker. They are particularly keen on improving the tourism offer as a future driver for the Parish. It is a clearing house for ideas and progress.

Similarly, Mark Lawrence chairs a meeting of ‘Sports together’, where the ‘movers and shakers’ of the various clubs ‘Zoom’ to discuss issues, such as membership, venues, available funding for sports. He signposts them to various resources and parish activities that may be symbiotic and feed information back to various committee chairmen.

Although we are all inundated with emails, the Chairmen would commend the Rural Housing Alliance document on ‘Affordable Housing’. Page 9 (included at the end of these minutes) describes the 8 different definitions of schemes that fall under this catch-all phrase. Anyone interested in local housing for local people may find this useful. He requested the Clerks distribute the report with the minutes. Cllr. Warne offered to compare the Rural Housing Alliance definitions of affordable housing vs. Cranbrook & Sissinghurst NDP definitions.

Cranbrook School are dealing with a Covid outbreak, and he has been in touch with their governors.

Several councillors are signed up to the Cyber security training on July 20th.

42/21: Policy & Resources:

Cllr. Beck referred to the minutes of the meeting held on 6th July and invited questions. None were raised, he proposed adoption of the minutes. This was seconded by Cllr. Fermor and agreed.

43/21: Planning & Preservation:

Cllr. Smith referred to the minutes of the meeting held on 15th June, all applications had been approved. He then referred to the minutes from the 6th July meeting which had been chaired by Cllr. Bunyan in his absence. She highlighted the application relating to replacement of Turnden farmhouse, and three additional dwellings, for which the committee had recommended refusal. They had no objection in principle to the rebuilding of the farmhouse, assuming the proper bricks and bond are used. However, the three additional dwellings would be better suited to the needs of the Parish if they were 2/3 bedrooms.

44/21: Properties & Burial Grounds:

Cllr. Gilbert advised no meeting had been held since the last Full Council meeting. A site visit will take place on 13th July.

45/21: Economic & Community:

Cllr. Hatcher referred to the minutes of the meeting held 22nd June. He highlighted the discussions regarding updating the Parish Council website and exploring having a social media presence. Clerked meetings will be held once a quarter. Un-clerked interim Zoom meetings will take place monthly. He proposed adoption of the minutes, this was seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and approved.

46/21: Environmental Management:

Cllr. Kings referred to the minutes of the site meeting held 29th June. He highlighted the replacement of the large piece of play equipment at the Ball Field. Site surveys by potential suppliers are in progress. He proposed adoption of the minutes, seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and approved.

47/21: Neighbourhood Development Plan:

Cllr. Warne referred to the meeting held on 29th June. The Landscape and Natural Environmental chapter had been completed and sent to Richard Eastham. There had been a report of a blocked footpath on Brick Kiln Farm. The Deputy Clerk confirmed she had reported this to KCC. Cllr. Warne proposed the minutes for adoption, seconded by Cllr. Pethurst, agreed.

48/21: Delegates Reports

The Chairman read out the following delegates reports:

a) Transport Accessibility Group – Graham Holmes

I previously offered an opinion on the doubtful future for this group and suggested that the Economic & Community Committee take on the role of monitoring local bus services and responding where necessary to wider initiatives.

b) Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group– Graham Holmes

The Group understands that TWBC and Highways/ England/Historical Railway Estate have opened dialogue that will include the proposed cutting infill between the former Cranbrook Station and Badgers Oak tunnel, together with the bridge carrying a private accommodation road. Both TWBC and HE are aware of the Heritage Group’s interest.

c) Tourism Group – Graham Holmes

Borough Cllr. Dawlings and I have a meeting with Cllr. Lee hatcher today (8th July) to discuss the future relationship with the Economic & Community Development Team.

33/21: Clerk’s Report:

Nothing to report.

34/21: Correspondence:

Tenterden Town Council NDP Pre-Submission Consultation had been received. Cllr. Bunyan commented that there was little mention of sustainability and design materials.

49/21: County & Borough Councillor Reports:

a) Cllr. Dawlings reported that as the new leader of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council he had begun the process of establishing the issues facing the council, setting out priorities and communicating to various stakeholders. Including strengthening the Borough Councils relationship with Kent County Council.

Finance – West Kent (TWBC, Tonbridge & Malling and Sevenoaks) is perceived as a wealthy, prosperous area therefore funding and grants are directed to East Kent. Pre-Covid, TWBC received three times as much income from fees and charges as it did council tax. Income has been hugely impacted by the pandemic. However, government has compensated for loss of council tax and business rates. Admin savings had been made by keeping business grant processing in-house.

Sports, leisure and parks – Tunbridge Wells sports grounds: changes required so that they are financed by the clubs that use them. Sodexo contractors not providing adequate service and alternative contractors to be explored.

Weald Sports Centre – has reopened following COVID closures. Ongoing management issues, including lack of cleanliness, which are being addressed.

Waste Collection – contract has been troublesome from the start. This has been exacerbated by shortage of HGV drivers, and a shortage of lifters. Reporting of missed bin collections is encouraged.

Antisocial Behaviour – the anti-social behaviour (parking on pavements, blocking driveways, burning of inappropriate waste in gardens, noise etc) by of some Town and Country Housing Association tenants is not being dealt with appropriately. A meeting has taken place with Town & Country Operations Director. Increased antisocial behaviour and vandalism is negatively affecting the town and the schools, Helen Grant MP is aware of the situation.

Cranbrook & Sissinghurst Tourism Website – now launched. Ongoing maintenance and promotion discussions required.

Cllr Fletcher thanked Cllr. Dawlings for taking time out of his extremely busy schedule to attend the meeting.

b)  Cllr. Warne advised the TWBC planning committee had approved an application for a teaching hub and student accommodation at Tunbridge Wells Hospital.

c) Cllr. Fairweather further explained that the teaching hub is one of four new medical schools being set up within the country. He also reported that the scope of his role as a Borough Councillor had vastly increased. As well as being a member of the cabinet he sits on committees responsible for community hubs/centres, health improvement, asset and community value and social housing. He writes regular articles in both Sissinghurst and Frittenden local magazines. The current issue in the area is fly tipping.

50/21: Items for Information:

  1. Cllr. Warne informed that Age Concern will have a stall at the Cranbrook on the Green event. New board members are looking for ideas.
  • Cllr. Bunyan explained that CCAAC had not had a meeting, but were looking to arrange one soon.
  • Cllr Fermor confirmed the deadline for the next edition of The Cake is 31st July 2021.
  • Cllr. Hatcher had attended the ‘Cranbrook Together’ meeting, along with Cllr Fletcher, and had found it a very useful forum. He had also attended Tunbridge Wells Public Transport forum. He is hoping to receive the presentation which he will share with Parish Councillors. Bus consultation is underway, he will share information with all.
  •  Cllr. Smith advised that a celebration of life for Denis Hempstead was taking place on Saturday 10th, all welcome.
  • Cllr. Rampling expressed his hope to bring together local speed reduction campaigning groups within the parish to get them working together.
  • Cllr Fletcher spoke about ‘Cranbrook on the Green’ event taking place on the Ball Field on the 1st August. The organisers would be very appreciative of help offered. It’s a great opportunity for the community to get together, and for local organisations to interact with the community. Parking for the event will be on Big Side field.

The meeting was closed.

A member of the public enquired if there is any money set aside for public toilet provision? Also asked if the Parish Council could speak to the Co-op about installing a proper toilet there as the opening hours would be longer? The current toilet is a saniflo system, which are more susceptible to being broken.  In addition, could the Parish office toilet be reconsidered, and a regular cleaner employed.  The member of the public felt that these two toilets would be sufficient for the towns needs.

Cllr. Fletcher advised there had been a council tax rebate on the toilets amounting to £3000, but no other monies had been set aside. His understanding is the saniflo system was used at the Co-op as there wasn’t access to a mains sewar in that location. He thanked the member of public for their suggestions and ensured they would be taken on board by the committee. All options would be costed and compared before making a decision.

It was reported that Costa Coffee and the White Horse had both agreed that their toilets could be made available for public use.

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