DRAFT MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE PARISH COUNCIL HELD IN VESTRY HALL, CRANBROOK, ON THURSDAY 10th AUGUST 2023
Public Participation – there were no questions from the public.
PRESENT: Cllrs. Fletcher (Chair), Bunyan, Fairweather, Hatcher, Kings, Newman, Page, Selby, Somers, Stone, Swenson and Tomlinson. Plus Borough Cllr. Dawlings & Warne and County Councillor Holden
48/23: APOLOGIES: Cllrs. Gilbert, Mills and Pethurst
49/23: 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.
50/23: Minutes of the Previous Meeting to be confirmed:
The Chairman referred to the minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held on 13th June 2023 that had been circulated before the meeting by the Clerk. They were agreed for accuracy and proposed for acceptance by Cllr. Fletcher, seconded by Cllr. Hatcher and voted for unanimously by those present at that meeting and signed by the Chair.
51/23: To agree response to Traffic Order consultation in conjunction with Fernham Homes planning application at The Street, Sissinghurst
Cllr. Fletcher summarised the proposal in the consultation and invited comments. Cllr. Hatcher referred to the minutes of the Planning and Preservation Committee from 1st August where it had been agreed to request that the yellow lines should be primrose yellow as it is a conservation area.
Cllr. Fairweather reported that there is a mixed response from local residents. Those in favour hope the lines will reduce the congestion caused by parking, those against are concerned about the loss of parking spaces. He will continue to explore the possibility of parking at the rear of Olivers Cottages.
It’s wasn’t clear if the lines are a condition of planning approval, or just advisory. Cllr. Fletcher proposed that if Highway report for the yellow lines is advisory, then the response is that the Parish Council objects to the plans. If they are compulsory, then the lines should be Heritage yellow. This was seconded by Cllr Somers and agreed.
52/23: Community/Medical Centre:
Cllr. Fletcher reported that he had recently spoken to the GPs and the Integrated Care Board. They are of the opinion that a medical centre in the town is critical. The business plan that was viable in 2020 is no longer achievable due to the rise in interest rates, increase in building costs and no rental increase from the ICB. However, Cllr. Fletcher wishes to continue to investigate alternative options as we need to future proof medical provision in the town. We have the land, and, once paid off, it will be a revenue stream for the Parish Council. He intends to gather a team of people to generate ideas for an alternative route forward. There will be an article in the next edition of the Cake seeking input.
Cllr. Fletcher advised that he had met with stake holders from Cranbrook Sports Club who are looking at options for a new clubhouse which has reduced their build costs per square metre. Cllr. Bunyan asked if the Sports Club would be prepared to offer advice, Cllr. Fletcher advised that they would.
Cllr. Hatcher’s thoughts were that some people will say that the Parish Council should not be delivering a medical centre, but his opinion is that if we can help, then we should.
In response to a question from Cllr. Newman regarding developer contributions, Cllr. Fletcher explained that there are s106 contributions, but they do not match the increased costs.
There is potential to offer space to other possible tenants such as an Alzheimer unit, other health professionals or anything that is for community use. Any ideas should be forwarded to Cllr. Fletcher, including any contact or businesses that might be able to assist.
53/23: Chairman’s Report:
Cllr. Fletcher advised that there will be an article in the next edition of Cake regarding the lack of education provision locally and inviting people to attend public meetings to be held in Vestry Hall on October the 4th at 2pm and then again at 8pm.
We continue to monitor the boarding up of the White Horse and the hole in the pavement in front of the White Horse.
Delighted to see that the pharmacy is opened. The owners are true entrepreneurs and are exactly what Cranbrook needs.
54/23: Approval of Committee Reports as detailed below:
- Policy & Resources:
Cllr. Bunyan referred to the minutes of the meeting held on the 8th August 2023.
Cllr. Hatcher highlighted the Parish Council Surgeries, which are due to start next month. Originally it was agreed to hold them quarterly, but it has now been decided to trial holding them monthly. In the months of September, October and December, the surgery will be held in the Addison Room in Cranbrook. In November it will be held in The Parish Room in Sissinghurst.
Cllr. Bunyan proposed that the minutes be adopted. This was seconded by Cllr. Hatcher and agreed.
- Planning & Preservation:
Cllr. Bunyan presented the minutes of the meeting held on August 1st. She highlighted the Snowfields Academy application which were amendments to an earlier application. The amendments had not addressed the issues the Committees initial issues and so continue to recommended refusal.
The Committee had briefly discussed the Headcorn NDP that is at regulation 14 stage. Cllr. Hatcher noted that the Headcorn NDP referred to school children travelling long distances to secondary school. Their closest government funded secondary school is Lenham School. Cranbrook would be their seconded closest, but Headcorn is out of the catchment area for Cranbrook School, but not for a
2. Properties and Burials:
Cllr. Bunyan reported on the site meeting that had taken place on July 18th. She highlighted that the committee had agreed a no vaping policy for Vestry Hall, will consider upgrades to the museum cabinet lighting and the sound system. Roof repairs had taken place and it is hoped that this will address the damp issues in the stairwell.
The committee had agreed the Parish Council will take over the Sissinghurst public toilets.
Cllr. Bunyan proposed that the minutes be adopted. This was seconded by Cllr. Newman and agreed.
Cllr. Fletcher reported that the grant application for 6 benches has been approved. 2 for Sissinghurst and 4 in Cranbrook.
3. Community Development – Next meeting is September.
4. Environmental Management – Next meeting is September.
5. Neighbourhood Plan
A reminder that the Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Parish Council NDP referendum is taking place on September 14th. Remember to take along I.D.
55/23: Delegate Reports:
a) Tourism Group: Newman had attended the most recent meeting. Discussions included:
- future use of the White Horse.
- the metal grids over the windows of the White Horse. The Clerk had sought guidance from TWBC planning department and there is no requirement for planning application even in a conservation area. The new owners are currently unknown.
- the tourism finger post. St Dunstan’s would like to include a pointer to the church. The Clerk advised that KCC Highways had confirmed that they are currently in possession of the finger post and will reinstate it when the streetlight is replaced. There is still no update date on when this will take place, despite repeated attempts to make contact.
- a new vicar has been appointed at St Dunstan’s and this will be announced in the Cake.
b) Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group: Fletcher read out a statement from Graham Holmes: The Group held a meeting on the 8th August and reviewed the work still outstanding in respect of the Paddock Wood Interpretation Panels.
The new website is making steady progress towards a launch in the Autumn. Pages include, History of the Line, Waymarking, Maps and Hop Picking.
c) CCAAC: No further update since July Full Council.
d) Age Concern: Fletcher advised that due to its popularity, the Tuesday lunchtime soup will be restarting on September 12th. He invited anyone to pop in as it is open to all. The church also continues their Wednesday afternoon session.
56/23: Clerks Report:
The Planning Department has approved the application for secondary glazing in the Vestry Hall. There are conditions attached that include providing a statement detailing when the secondary glazing will be removed and reinstated. It has been suggested that the glazing should coincide with the months when the heating charge is levied.
57/23: Correspondence: Nothing to report.
58/23: County and Borough Councillor Reports:
County Cllr. Holden reported that:
- unfortunately, the Cabinet Member for Education is unable to attend the education meeting that Cllr. Fletcher has arranged for October. Cllr. Holden believes that there is benefit in holding a separate meeting with the officials following the public meeting. It is recognised that there is a deficit of secondary places in the area, however it is not enough to justify a school.
- as with many councils, finances at KCC continue to be precarious. The household waste recycling consultation has been particularly controversial. Kent has a 20% higher rate of children with an EHC Plan. Transport costs for some individual children cost £80/day. Adult Social care costs continue to increase.
- Kent is looking after 500 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, fortunately the government has agreed to cover the costs. It is still not compulsory for other regions to take any children.
- Ofsted issued an improvement notice to KCC after failing to make sufficient improvement in nine areas of Special Educational Needs service provision. A new Director of Childrens Services has been appointed and Cllr. Rory Love has taken on the role of Cabinet Member for Education
- Reports of potholes have increased 5-fold on last year. The government have provided KCC £6 million towards potholes, however the cost is closer to be a £1 billion
- KCC have appointed an inspector to check up on road closures, diversions, works over running and signs that are not taken away.
- He received petition from local residents to reduce the speed limit from 5omph to 40mph on parts of A229 Common Road. Unfortunately, the Police say there is a natural speed of 50mph on the stretch of road and will not agree to a reduction
- Kent’s Plan Bee, the county’s pollinator strategy, has won a national award for Kent County Council (KCC) which has been named by the government as a Bees’ Needs Champion for its exceptional work
Borough Cllr. Warne reported:
- The Borough is also still working on budget shortfalls. The parking charges at Dunorlan are proving unpopular. Some public toilets are closing. The Cresent Road toilets will be shutting. The Amelia Scott has public toilets within the building.
- Work is taking place to produce a draft Economic Development Strategy and a New Tenancy Strategy for those renting from Tunbridge Wells registered providers.
- As well as Cranbrook & Sissinghurst, NDP referendums for Pembury and for Paddock Wood are taking place on September 14th.
- She has been tasked with writing a blog on vibrant and safe towns.
Borough Cllr. Fairweather reported:
- He is still receiving reports of missed bins in Sissinghurst and Frittenden
Borough Cllr. Dawlings reported that:
- The Benenden NDP referendum, had received a big turnout of voters. The majority where in favour with 19% voting against. He believes it was the site allocations that had engaged people to turn out. The developer of land near Benenden Hospital are trying to expand development contrary to the NDP. Will watch the progress with interest. He commended everyone who had worked on the Cranbrook & Sissinghurst NDP.
- Due to the deterioration of Bishops Lane, the refuse lorry can no longer access the properties, some of which are Town and Country properties.
59/23: Items for Information
Cllr. Swenson advised that the new junction at Goddards Green is close to completion and would be subject to an independent Stage 3 safety audit. Many road users have complained about the design. He felt that it’s important that users have the opportunity to comment but did not know the correct channel. County Cllr. Sean Holden agreed to enquire and report back.
Cllr. Fletcher advised that s106 monies from Berkeley are becoming available. The rugby club have a project to buy pitch preparation machinery that they will share with Cranbrook Juniors Football Club. Borough Cllr. Dawlings encourages the community to identify projects that would benefit from s106 money. Cllr. Warne suggested that the NDP would be a good starting point.
Cllr. Fletcher advised that 5 Asian Hornet nest have been discovered in Kent. Any one discovering one should notify DEFRA.