July 2022 Full Council – Draft

                                                    DRAFT

MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE PARISH COUNCIL HELD IN THE COUNCIL CHAMBERS CRANBROOK ON THURSDAY 14th JULY 2022

PRESENT: Cllr. Fletcher (Chairman), Cllrs. Beck, Bunyan, Fairweather, Gilbert, Hartley, Hatcher, Kings, Pethurst, Rampling, Simpson and Waters. Borough Cllr. Dawlings (in part) Borough and County Cllr Holden.

APOLOGIES: Cllrs. Dyke, Hartley and Tomlinson. Borough Cllr. Warne.

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.

38/22: Minutes of the Previous Meeting to be confirmed:

The Chairman proposed the Minutes of the Meeting held on the 9th June 2022 be adopted as a true record, this was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed.

39/22: Co-Option of a Councillor for the Cranbrook Ward:

Following the resignation of Cllr. Fermor a vacancy had arisen on the Parish Council. Due process had been followed, no call for an election had been made. The casual vacancy had been advertised.There had been three expressions of interest received, one of which had been withdrawn. They had been invited to speak for three to four minutes and to include what they saw as the main challenges the Parish Council face and what they thought they could bring to the role. One candidate was unable to attend due to a prior commitment, but had sent a written submission which was read out by the Chairman.  The remaining candidate 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 the vacancy. The vote was counted by the Clerks, who advised the Chair that Carol Somers was the successful candidate. As she was unable to attend, she would be invited into the office to sign the Declaration of Acceptance of Office as soon as was practicable.

The Chairman thanked the unsuccessful candidate for the interest that they had shown, and hoped they would consider standing for election next May.

40/22: Community Centre/Medical Centre:

Cllr. Gilbert reported the Outline Business Case had now been updated and he was pleased to report that the project was still financially feasible. A Procurement Strategy had also been created. He hoped to bring all the relevant documents to Full Council next month for approval.

A board meeting had been scheduled for Monday 18th July.

41/22: Kent Police Neighbourhood Policing Review 2022:

The Chairman referred to the Neighbourhood Policing Review 2022, Public Engagement Summary that he had received following attendance at the event. It had been circulated with the agenda as he felt it should be shared with all Members. He was pleased that everyone seemed to be ‘singing from the same song sheet’. Police Officers had been attached to several schools, which was working well. He heard last week that a local bus company were considering terminating their contract with KCC, as they had a problem recruiting new drivers because of the appalling behaviour on some routes.

42/22: Approval of NDP Submission:

Motion 1 put forward by Cllr. Pethurst:

Cranbrook & Sissinghurst Parish Council adopt the Draft Neighbourhood Development Plan as presented, amended in line with comments following the Regulation 14 Public Consultation held at the end of 2020.

Cllr. Pethurst explained the motion he was proposing was the result of the 3000 comments received during the Regulation 14 Public Consultation and a further 200 additional comments made by TWBC. He hoped all Members had, had sufficient opportunity to read the documents. His proposal was seconded by Cllr. Hatcher and agreed unanimously.

Motion 2 put forward by Cllr. Pethurst:

The adopted draft plan is presented to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council for review and subsequent examination.

Cllr. Pethurst explained that in approving the documents, the procedure now needed to follow due process and be submitted to TWBC. His second proposal was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and again agreed unanimously.

Cllr. Bunyan congratulated the Neighbourhood Steering Group for all the hard work and effort involved in getting this far. Cllr. Pethurst said this had been achieved by not only the huge amount of work by members of the group, both past and present, but also by the strong leadership of Nancy Warne. He would pass on the Council’s thanks to all concerned. 

43/22: Chairman’s Report:

The Chairman had circulated the questionnaire that had been created to help find volunteers for the Community Kitchen Project. The Parish Council needs to find the people that will lead these projects. He is writing an article for the next edition of The Cake, a link to the questionnaire will also be added to the website and our Facebook page.

He referred to the closure of the High Weald Academy and his concerns that the impact of the closure will take truancy rates through the roof. Any pleas to the Education Secretary need area wide support.

One idea has been to launch a boxing club in Cranbrook. He has approached the Leigh Academy Trust to see if they would allow one of their unused buildings to be considered for this. As yet he has been unable to secure permission. This prompted a great deal of discussion and ideas being put forward for how it could be managed.

The Chairman would like to see the monthly Full Council meetings move forward in this way and discuss major projects the Parish Council can have some input in. We need short term, medium term and long term goals to focus on. Members will need to decide which projects are suitable for discussion at Full Council. These would become part of the Five Year Plan for each Committee. The Clerk reminded Members that decisions made at a committee level are ratified by all members when the minutes of those meetings are adopted at Full Council, thus all members are endorsing the decisions made by each committee.

Cllr. Pethurst felt that the Council needs to develop a better engagement mechanism so the community has the say in what projects are taken forward for further discussion.

Reports from Committees:

44/22: Policy & Resources:

Cllr Beck referred to the minutes of the meeting held on the 12th July and invited questions. As none were raised, he proposed adoption. This was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.

45/22: Planning & Preservation:

Cllr. Bunyan referred to the minutes of the meetings held 21st June and 5th July. She reported that the St George’s Institute application had now been recommended for approval subject to the comments made by the Committee being given consideration.

She also reported there was no news on the Turnden application that was called in to the Secretary of State. Cllr. Dawlings advised no decision had been made and that the new Secretary of State would not be involved in the decision process due to the location of the site.

46/22: Properties & Burial Grounds:

Cllr Gilbert advised the next meeting was July 19th.

47/22: Economic & Community:

Cllr. Hatcher referred to the minutes of the meeting held on 21st June. He advised it had been agreed to hold more regular working group meetings that would not require clerking. The next working group meeting would take place on 26th July in the Council Chamber at 5pm. He also asked all members to look at the new website being created; he would circulate the link to all members and would be grateful for any feedback. Once approved it could go live within weeks.

He proposed adoption of the minutes, this was seconded by Cllr. Rampling and agreed.

48/22: Environmental Management:

Cllr. Kings referred to the minutes of the site meeting held on the 28th June and highlighted the discussion on unauthorised parking in the Tanyard Dental Surgery and the issue this caused for access by our ground’s contractors and emergency vehicles. Concerns of public liability were raised should any of the vehicles currently using the space without permission were damaged, would we be liable? Cllr. Fletcher advised the area used to be hatched so unauthorised parking was never an issue. As the hatching had now faded and is no longer evident, vehicles were regularly parking there without permission. Cllr. Kings proposed that an additional bollard is installed and signage erected to advise the area is private and that no liability will be accepted for unauthorised vehicles parked at the location. This was seconded by Cllr. Fairweather and agreed.

A further discussion followed relating to the play equipment review, item 4/22 of the minutes.

Cllr. Pethurst again raised concern that the Council was not consulting with parishioners, it was presenting them with certain options. Cllr. Hatcher reported he had met with some of the some of the parents that had been vocal when the previous equipment had been installed and advised there was insufficient funds in the budget for this current year to consider installing additional equipment. They had discussed the possibility of crowdfunding although he was doubtful their grant application to KCC for match funding would be submitted in time. Cllr. Kings would write an article for The Cake to include the options currently under consideration and a request for any other suggestions. A link to our Facebook page would be added to allow parishioners to comment. Cllr. Hatcher advised he was also in contact with parents and carers asking for play equipment.

Cllr. Kings proposed adoption of the minutes, this was seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and agreed.

49/22: Neighbourhood Development Plan:

Cllr. Pethurst had nothing further to add to the motions carried earlier.

50/22: Delegate Reports:

a) Tourism Group:

Cllr. Hatcher advised he had given a report at the Economic and Community meeting and had nothing further to add.

b) Hop Picker’s Line Heritage Group – Report provided by Graham Holmes:

The Group met on the 12th July at Goudhurst.

In addition to representations made in respect of Planning Application No.22/00134 at Cranbrook Station, the Group will also be commenting on Application No.22/0048, in respect of the proposed replacement of temporary structures by permanent buildings at the former Hawkhurst Station site at Gills Green. This Application also appears to disregard the Local Plan requirements relating to preservation of the original track alignment.

The Group are also seeking funding via the Paddock Wood Church Farm Development for an interpretation board to be erected alongside the existing railway footbridge.

In order to support the Heritage Open Day events between the 9th and 18th September, the possibility of opening the old engine shed to the public at Hawkhurst Station is being investigated.

Lastly, the Group will again be supporting the High Weald Walking Festival on the 14th September with a guided walk around Goudhurst, taking in some of the remaining railway structures in the village.

c) Age Concern:

Cllr. Simpson reported the numbers at the coffee morning remained static. It was hoped a new repair service for hearing aids would be launched in September, free hearing aid batteries were already available. In response to the Chairman, Cllr. Simpson agreed to write a short article for The Cake, advertising the new service.

d) CCAAC:

Cllr. Bunyan advised the next meeting was scheduled for 27th July.

e) Citizens Advice:

Cllr. Hatcher advised that the Paddock Wood Community Advice Centre had given a presentation at the last Economic and Community meeting. The Committee had agreed to carry their information on our website and at the Community Kitchen as and when it is launched.

The Tunbridge Wells and District Citizen’s Advice bureau had been in contact with Cllr. Hatcher, a meeting had been scheduled in the near future to discuss possible venues in the Town.

f) Museum:

Cllr. Pethurst reported that he had attended the meeting of the committee last week. CCTV had now been installed around the building for security reasons. Her also reported the new exhibition currently running ‘Shops in the High Street and Stone Street Through the Years’ was partially interactive as it requires parishioners to submit their memories.

51/22: Clerk’s Report:

The Clerk advised that there was a possibility that due to unforeseen circumstances it may be necessary to close the office for a couple of days in July.

52/22: Correspondence:

No correspondence had been received that required reporting.

53/22: Borough & County Councillor Reports:

a) County and Borough Cllr. Holden gave the following report:

Cllr. Holden reported that he too had been chasing the Leigh Academy Trust regarding empty buildings but no response has been received so he will take it up with Paul Carter the ex-leader of KCC, assuming he is still involved with the Trust.

He reported on the concerns raised over the reduction of some bus services in the County. He Chairs the Environment and Transport Committee which met last week. It was proposed that subsidies provided for bus operators is cut by £2.2m which has created a great deal of concern. Thankfully there is little impact in this area. At the same time KCC is considering cutting the subsides the bus companies are cutting 40 routes purely for commercial reasons as passengers are still only at 70% of pre pandemic numbers. They are suggesting that KCC are responsible for the loss of these services. Children who live in excess of three miles from their nearest school are entitled to free home to school transport. He stated that KCC has no such obligation for pupils attending grammar or religious schools. He confirmed to Cllr. Rampling that children intelligent enough to attend a grammar school but who came from a low-income family, would not be eligible for any support. 

He raised concern that all the proposals in relation to helping Ukrainian families were for an initial period of six months and nothing is in place for when that time has passed.

In relation to the cost-of-living crisis, Kent County Council had received £11m from central government under the Home Support Fund Extension. This had been used to support children who receive free school meals during the May half term. There will also be a £50 flat rate assistance for vulnerable people to help with fuel bills.

He is disappointed the current administration at the Borough Council is looking to increase parking charges by 25%.

He was pleased to report that KCC had obtained ‘outstanding’ in their report for children’s services. A huge turnaround from the ‘requires improvement’ obtained ten years ago.

The Local Transport Plan is being brought forward. BSIP (Bus Service Improvement Plan) has allocated £35m to improve infrastructure in the County. It covers projects such as installing new bus lanes, however, unfortunately it cannot be used to subsidise existing services.

He had the pleasure of walking around with Honorary Mayor, Linda Page during the South East in Bloom judging and was delighted with the impact made by the boxes on St. David’s Bridge, that he had financed with a Member’s Grant.

b) The Chairman read out the following report from Borough Cllr. Warne:

The next meeting of the TWBC Cabinet is at the Sandhurst Old School Hall at 6.30pm should anyone be interested in attending. 

Please pass on my thanks to those members of the Parish Council who attended the meeting in the Vestry Hall in June, and let them know that any feedback would be most welcome.

Also, to let Members know that the Council has a new Tree Officer, Paul Roberts and that the new Head of Planning, Carlos Hume should have started today.

c)Unfortunately both Borough Cllrs. Dawlings and Fairweather had been unable to stay long enough to give their reports.

54/22: Items for Information:

a) Cllr. Bunyan felt that, Borough Cllr. Warne’s recent exam success should be recognised and congratulated.

b) Cllr. Rampling advised that according to a local tree surgeon, ash die back disease was increasing in this area.

c) Cllr. Simpson had been asked if the gents’ toilets could be opened as opposed to the current offering of unisex toilets. It was explained that had been discounted for financial reasons and the current situation was a temporary measure, until the new community centre is built.

The Meeting was closed.

A member of the public reiterated the need to engage with the community when considering new play equipment.

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