Universal Credit Guidance

Due to the impact of Coronavirus over 5.5 million people are claiming Universal Credit. Many of them are new to claiming Universal Credit having been negatively impacted by Coronavirus. 

To help people navigate claiming Universal Credit, guidance can be found on the ‘job centre near me’ website https://www.jobcentrenearme.com/universal-credit/

For advice on preparing for your interview, assessment centre or aptitude test visit www.wikijob.co.uk.

UPDATE Re: Announcement from Buckingham Palace – 09.04.21

Further to our post on Friday, we have been notified the guidance has now changed, and it is with regret that we must inform you that the decision has been taken not open up physical condolence books in any of the Local Authority buildings. 

Please see below the latest statement from Kent County Councils Communication Team:
“Following the death of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh we know that many of you will be wanting to pay tribute to him and offer condolences to Her Majesty The Queen at this sad time.

Our priority remains to keep everyone safe and, due to the current public health guidelines and lockdown restrictions around COVID-19, we will not be providing books of condolences at our buildings.

We would like to encourage you to leave your tributes to The Duke of Edinburgh by signing the book of condolence on the website of The Royal Household.

You can find the book of condolence at www.royal.uk

If you are unable to access the online book of condolence you are welcome to send your tribute in writing to the following address;

Tribute to HRH The Duke of  Edinburgh, The Civic Office, Sessions House, County Road, Maidstone ME14 1XQ

The Royal Household has requested that members of the public do not leave floral tributes or gather in public places to offer their respects. The Palace has suggested that people could donate to charity instead, if they wish to do so.”

Best wishes
The Cranbrook and Sissinghurst PC team

TWBC Weekly E-Newsletter

Did you know Tunbridge Wells Borough Council have a weekly e-newsletter that keeps you up to date with new planning applications near you, bin day reminders, local events, garden waste updates and more?

Increase of dog thefts in Kent

From Kent County Council Public Protection

There are reports from Kent Police on the increase of dog theft or attempted thefts in Kent over the past week.

Cases have increased by 33% in the South East since 2018 – with 163 incidents reported within the last year. Demand for dogs have skyrocketed in lockdown and prices have soared as a result. 

Organised crime is exploiting this situation by smuggling puppies from abroad and stealing dogs across the UK. Dog thefts are now at an all-time high, with puppies stolen for an immediate resale and adult dogs being taken for forced breeding on puppy farms.  

What to do:
Keep your dogs safe by following these simple steps:
Safe – secure your property and garden.
Spottable – Keep your dogs in sight and train them to return to you. Searchable – Know what steps to take if they go missing. Read more from Dogs Trust on keeping your pet safe. 

Report any information about a stolen dog or suspicious behaviour to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or call the Police on 101.

Please warn family members, friends and neighbours.

Burst Water Pipes? What to do in an Emergency…

As the snow and ice starts to melt over the coming days it may uncover some unwelcome surprises in the home.

A change in the weather can result in frozen taps and pipes at home leaking or bursting so South East Water has released it’s top tips of what you should do if you have a water related emergency at home.

If your pipes have burst

  1. Turn off your stop tap
  2. Turn off electrics at the fuse box if water is leaking near any electrical appliances
  3. Open all taps to drain the system quickly
  4. Soak up/block off escaping water with thick towels
  5. Call a qualified plumber. To find your nearest WaterSafe accredited plumber visit watersafe.org.uk  
  6. If water has leaked near your electrics or into any electrical appliances, switch them off at the mains
  7. Turn off taps once the pipework is repaired to avoid further flooding

 If your pipes have frozen

  1. Turn off the water supply at the stop tap
  2. Slowly thaw the pipe with a warm towel (we recommend using your tumble dryer or soaking them in warm water) or a hairdryer, starting at the end nearest to the tap. Never use a naked flame or blowtorch

South East Water has more advice, as well as details of how to keep homes nice and toasty and protected from the cold on its website: https://www.southeastwater.co.uk/my-water-supply/protect-your-pipes-this-winter

You can also sign up to be on the company’s Priority Services Register which can help you, your family or friends with additional support when you need it most.

Support ranges from receiving prior warning of planned work which may interrupt your water supply, receiving priority treatment if your water supply is interrupted to receiving alternative heating and cooking facilities to your door in a gas or electric emergency.

Plus much more.

To sign up visit: www.southeastwater.co.uk/priority or call: 0333 000 2468

Update from SGN – Gas network upgrade in A229/ Hartley Road, Cranbrook


I’m writing to provide you with an update about our project to replace our gas network along A229/ Hartley Road, Cranbrook. Our project involves the essential replacement of old metal gas mains with new plastic pipe.

Following UK Government advice in March 2020, we needed to make changes to our ways of working to protect our colleagues and communities from the spread of coronavirus. As a result, we temporarily postponed our network upgrade project in your community. However, this safety-critical project needs to go ahead now, rather than wait until the coronavirus pandemic passes, to ensure your local community continues to receive a safe and reliable gas supply.

In consultation with Kent County Council, we restarted our project on Monday 1 February. Over the coming 11 weeks, our contractor RHP Pipelines will working in A229/ Hartley Road starting from the junction with Orchard Way and progressing westwards towards Champion Crescent.

To ensure everyone’s safety, we will need to install temporary traffic lights around our work area. The traffic lights will move with us as we progress westwards along the road.

We have agreed with Kent County Council carrying out this necessary work during the national lockdown will minimise disruption to the local community.

We’re working closely with the UK Government and public health bodies to make sure we work in line with expert advice during the pandemic. We have extra safety precautions in place to protect our colleagues and our communities from catching or spreading the virus as we carry out our safety-critical project. There’s more information about our coronavirus response on our website: sgn.co.uk/coronavirus

Our engineers are be happy to answer questions at any time during our project. Please remember to keep a safe distance when speaking to our team or passing our site.

We understand that roadworks can be frustrating. However, the new plastic pipe has a minimum lifespan of 80 years. This means that when the work is complete, local residents will continue to enjoy the benefits of a safe and reliable gas supply for years to come.

Thank you for your understanding and support during these challenging times. 

If you have any queries or further questions please contact:
email: customer@sgn.co.uk
phone: 0800 912 1700

Hospice in the Weald helps NHS crisis, so loved ones don’t have to die alone in Kent & Sussex

Hospice in the Weald to relieve pressure with immediate patient availability as local hospitals reach ‘breaking point’

  • Urgent response with 14 beds made available for immediate use
  • Hospice patients can still have visitors
  • A solution for critically unwell to relieve NHS pressures

26 January 2021, South East – With local hospitals such as Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells (MTW) NHS Trust at ‘breaking point’ according to the Medical Director of MTW, some of the critically ill in Kent and Sussex are being transferred to hospitals as far away as Plymouth and Bristol. In response, local charity Hospice in the Weald has made 14 private rooms (out of a total of 25) available immediately for patients at the end of their lives across its Cottage Hospice and In-Patient Ward in Pembury.

Paul Madden, Care Director of Hospice in the Weald, said: “As MTW are admitting more than three or even four times the number of daily COVID cases than the previous peak and people are dying in ambulances waiting for hospital admission across the country. We want people to know that you don’t have to die alone in Hospital, home, or worse. Care from Hospice in the Weald means you can still have visitors – we can offer beds directly to the families of those at the end of their lives, with or without Covid-19.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic the number of deaths has spiked across Kent & Sussex. Hospice in Weald provides care for patients at the end of life and support for their loved ones, free of charge.

With a broad 400 sq mile catchment across Kent and Sussex, this special support system is crucial for those families who have loved ones that do not want to end life alone in a hospital. This is particularly poignant at this time, with many visits to say goodbye restricted due to Covid-19 guidelines.

Julie Northfield is from Mayfield. Her father died under the care of the Hospice team in Five Ashes in the autumn of 2020. She says: “Being at Cottage Hospice made the end of Dad’s life calm, dignified, and as good as it could be. We would have continued to struggle to care for him at home but the Hospice took away that struggle so that we could focus as a family on saying our goodbyes. He could not have had a better death. That makes the grieving process easier too, there are no ‘what ifs’ and you can take comfort in knowing that you have done the best you could have done.”

Cottage Hospice is based at Five Ashes near Mayfield and is the first of its kind in the UK, providing people at the end of their lives with a comfortable, personalised ‘home from home’ – with room for family members and pets to visit, as well as a dedicated nursing team if required.

The beds across Hospice in the Weald are available for anyone living with a terminal illness in Kent and Sussex, to help keep families together during one of the most difficult times of life.

Rob Woolley, Chief Executive at Hospice in The Weald continues: “Never has there been a more pressing time than in the current situation with local hospitals at full capacity and no visitors allowed. Hospice in the Weald caters for people to live out their final days, weeks or months comfortably with their loved ones around them and we have immediate availability that people may not know about. All it takes is one phone call and we can quickly support families and care for their loved ones in comfort.”

Hospice in the Weald has implemented stringent Covid-19 measures to provide as safe a space as possible during the pandemic. The In-Patient Ward at Pembury is taking Covid positive and negative patients, to ensure everyone gets the best possible care. The Cottage Hospice in Five Ashes is being kept as a Covid free site to ensure even the most vulnerable of patients can be kept safe.  

To find out more contact the team at Hospice in the Weald directly on 01892 820515, or visit hospiceintheweald.org.uk and use the ‘access care’ button. 

Hospice in the Weald is a registered charity not part of the NHS. Their charity shops generate more income than they receive from the government. The Hospice provides care for patients in the last year of their lives, and those important to them, throughout Kent and Sussex.

All care is offered free of charge and patients can be cared for in their own homes, or in two in-patient settings; the Ward in Pembury or the Cottage Hospice in Five Ashes, near Mayfield. Cottage Hospice is the first Service of its kind in the UK to offer a homely environment where patients are cared for by their loved ones, with the support of nursing staff. Counselling support is also available to patients and those important to them.

The Hospice has remained open throughout the COVID pandemic and has cared for COVID positive patients as needed. Some Services such as counselling have been offered via telephone or video call.

The Hospice exists only by donations and grants and needs to raise over £7 million every year. If you are a local business and want to help HitW at this difficult time, get in touch via the website www.hospiceintheweald.org.uk

Kent Fraud Alert System

We have received details from Kent Fraud Alert System of several scams to be aware of. They are:

  • HSBS Phising email
  • Fraudsters impersonating Citizens Advice
  • Bitcoin Phising emails

For more details click here

Policy & Resources Minutes 12.01.2021


The meeting was held remotely using Zoom software.

PRESENT: Cllr. Beck (in the Chair), Fletcher, Gilbert, Smith and Warne.

APOLOGIES: Cllr. Fairweather.

Declaration of Interests, Dispensations and Predetermination:

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.

73/20: Internal finance check:

Cllr. Beck confirmed that the internal finance check had been completed and everything was in order.

74/20: Authorisation of payments made after the December meeting:

A list of payments totalling £14,070.38 made after the December meeting is filed with these minutes.

75/20: Transfers of monies between accounts:

Cllr. Beck reported that £10,000 was transferred from the Lloyds current account to HSBC current account.

76/20: Invoices for Payment:

A list of payments to be made in January had been circulated for approval, a copy of which is filed with these minutes. It was proposed by Cllr. Beck, seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed to authorise the payments. Two members are required to log in to the account and authorise the payments.

These included:

Policy and Resources                          £6,069.41

Properties & Burial Grounds              £   934.79

Environmental Management             £1,821.01        

Total           £8,825.21

77/20: Community Centre/Medical Centre:

There was no report made under this item.

78/20: Grounds Contract:

The opportunity to tender for Grounds Contract had been advertised in January 2020. Multiple applications were received, these were subsequently shortlisted to two local companies, just at the point the Coronavirus Pandemic struck. It was agreed at the time to extend the present contractor’s contract for a further year. Members discussed the attributes of both the remaining two tenders.

It was proposed by Cllr. Fletcher, seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed to accept the tender submitted by Kent Grassland Services. The Clerk confirmed the contract would run until 31st March 2023 as detailed originally on the Public Contracts website.

79/20: E.ON electricity contract renewal for Street lighting/E.V points.

The Clerk advised that we had received renewal terms for the streetlighting energy contract. We had been quoted for two options, one using ‘green energy’ as in wind farms and other using ‘grid electricity’. There was minimal cost difference between the two options. With this in mind, Cllr. Beck proposed the green option was accepted, for a supply period of 36 months. This was seconded by Cllr. Smith and agreed.

We had also received a quote to renew the EV charge point supply. The quotes contained options for one, two and three years, the latter being the most expensive. Members discussed the Clerk’s time and effort versus the extra cost to secure a fixed price for a longer period. After a full discussion Cllr. Fletcher proposed that the quote, fixed for two years at 25.32p per kWh with a standing charge of 48p per day be accepted. He also proposed that the unit charge on the EV charge points should be increased to 33p per kWh and signage to reflect the change should be purchased and erected. The proposals were seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.

80/20: Staffing:

Cllr. Gilbert reported that he would soon be undertaking the annual inspection of Vestry Hall Cottage and would take the opportunity to discuss with the tenants, their caretaking role going forward.

81/20: Grant Applications:

An application requesting £1,600 had been received from Cranbrook Primary Out of School Club. Due to the pandemic and subsequent closure of schools, their operating costs had remained the same but their income had reduced dramatically. This was because some parents had continued to work from home. They needed financial assistance to be able to continue providing the service. Cllr. Beck proposed the grant be awarded in full, subject to the organisation providing copy for an article in the parish magazine to highlight the facilities they offer, which would hopefully improve take up of the service. This was seconded by Cllr. Warne and agreed.

82/20: Items for Information:

Cllr. Beck asked members to consider compiling a list of solicitors the Parish Council could use for legal matters, such as checking leases. Recommendations could be discussed as a future agenda item.

Cllr. Gilbert reported that the lease for KCC to use the Vestry Hall as an Asymptomatic Testing Centre for the next 8-9 weeks, had been agreed.

Cllr. Warne reported that a drafting error in the Tunbridge Wells Local Plan had been discovered in relation to the Turnden development. They had only included phase 2, the 160-170 houses, the 36 that had already received permission had not been included. This had pushed our figures up from 453 to 467, for Cranbrook and Sissinghurst. The Plan did get passed by the Planning and Transport Cabinet Advisory Group last night, so would now go before Cabinet to get signed off and then to Full Council for final approval.

She also reported on the government consultation – Supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure, which is looking at adopting new permitted development rights. A new Business Class Use E has been added which is more flexible and would allow for conversion of any commercial space to residential. However, it does contain exemptions including the AONB and Listed Buildings. The consultation runs until the 28th January.

Latest news from Kent County Council Public Protection

Sittingbourne resident targeted by bogus Council officials  
An elderly resident in Kent was targeted by bogus council officials into paying £4,000 for urgent home repairs.
What happens: You will be cold called by 2 men claiming to be from Swale Borough Council. They will tell you urgent repairs need to be carried out in your home. The work will cost you £4,000 but you will be able to claim the money back.

What to do:
Do not respond to cold callers
Check the identity by calling your local council on a number you have. Do not use any phone number the cold callers give you – it may not be genuine.
Report to Kent Police on 101, or if you feel threatened call 999.
Please warn vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours.


COVID-19 Symptom-Free Testing in Cranbrook

Update 22nd April 2021:

KCC Cranbrook Asymptomatic Testing site will close on the 29th April. Opening hours until then remain 9am to 2pm.

For details of site closures, please see KCC media site.

It is recommended that everyone without symptoms should get tested every 2 weeks, especially if you’re leaving the house for a necessary reason, such as going to work or shopping for essentials. Around 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 have no symptoms, so get tested regularly to make sure you are not unknowingly spreading the virus.

To book a test follow this link COVID-19 Test Appointments Home (healthit.org.uk) – Appointments not always necessary

Please note the disabled access is through the side door of Vestry Hall, via the churchyard.

If you are required to queue for your test there is no shelter, so please ensure that you are suitably wrapped up for the weather.

You’ll need to take with you:

*             your mobile phone (with a QR code reader or the NHS app already installed if possible)

*             your booking confirmation

*             proof of identity (photo ID). You can bring proof of address if you do not have photo ID.

Update of major gas works by SGN in Cranbrook.

SGN are pleased to advise that they have successfully completed their essential gas main replacement work on the High Street, Angley Road and New Road.  

They would like to thank local residents and businesses for their patience and understanding throughout their work programme, enabling them to carry out this essential work.  

They would also like to take this opportunity to advise that following the latest Government advice at the end of March 2020, they postponed a separate replacement project along A229/ Hartley Road undertaken by their contractor RHP Utilities. They will need to return in the future to complete the final upgrades and will write and let us know once details have been confirmed and they are able to restart this project.


Royal Mail Phishing Scam

We have received reports of a phishing email currently circulating in the UK and being received by Kent residents.

The email tells you that you have missed a delivery and provides a link to reschedule. It is a scam, do not click on any links or enter any details.

This scam often circulates at Christmas as we may be expecting parcels and deliveries.

Royal Mail provides this advice – How to spot a fake email: Check at the top.
Fraudsters often use subjects or greetings that are impersonal and general, like “Attention Royal Mail Customer”. They may use a forged email address in the “from” field like “delivery@royalmail.com”. They may even use the Royal Mail logo. None of this guarantees the email has come from us.

The sender, subject and content may change slightly but often they:
• state there is a parcel waiting to be collected
• ask for payment before an item can be released for delivery
• prompts you to open a link or document
• asks you to send a text message or call a phone premium rate phone number
Protect your information
• Never send sensitive, personal information, security details or credit card numbers by email
• Never click on a link in an email if you are unsure about it, especially if it asks for personal financial information, this might attempt to install malware on to your computer
• Make sure you have a spam filter on your email account
Reporting potential scams
If you receive a suspicious email or discover a Royal Mail branded website which you think is fraudulent, please let them know by telephone 03457 740 740. They are open Monday to Friday 8am-6pm and Saturday 8am-1pm.

For help and advice with online scams contact Citizens Advice scams action on 0808 250 5050.

Kent Community Foundation’s Surviving Winter Campaign, Knock and Check

Knock and Check logo

Each year there are around 1600 avoidable winter deaths across the county. We want your help to reduce this number and are asking the people of Kent to check on their elderly neighbours during the colder months when they are most at risk.

Knock & Check is simple – take a look at the small actions which will make a difference within your community, as well as the details of services which can offer a lifeline to the more elderly and isolated, by visiting this website

Volunteer to help find the vaccine for COVID-19

Join the national effort and sign up for the NHS COVID-19 vaccine research registry. Be part of the fightback against the virus by volunteering to be contacted by researchers to take part in COVID-19 vaccine research. 

There are a number of vaccines being identified, but only large-scale studies can give researchers the information needed about how effective they are. 

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is working with the NHS and aims to recruit as many people as possible onto the registry, which will allow people to be put in touch with the vaccine studies in the coming months. 

Researchers are looking for people from all backgrounds, ages and parts of the UK – including both people with or without existing health conditions – to take part in vaccine studies, to make sure that any vaccines developed will work for everyone. 

The service is available to anyone aged 18 or over, living in the UK. There is no obligation to join in any study, if you are contacted. But by taking part, you could help researchers find vaccines to protect us all more quickly – which in turn could help the NHS and save lives. 
Sign up today!

Image of NIHR asking for help with vaccine research

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