PRESENT: Cllr. Pethurst (in the Chair), Cllrs. Bunyan, Fletcher, Gilbert and Hatcher.


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.


Cllr. Pethurst declared a personal interest on item 118/23 (a) as his wife is a member of the organising committee for Nuts in May, therefore he would not participate in the voting on this item.


108/23: Internal finance check:

Cllr. Pethurst confirmed that the internal finance check had been completed and everything was in order, all paperwork had been signed and initialled.


109/23: Authorisation of payments made after the February meeting:

A list of payments totalling £19,006.43 made after the February meeting, is filed with these minutes.


110/23: Transfers of monies between accounts, including savings accounts to maximise interest revenue:

A transfer of £150K was made from the Lloyds No2 account to the Unity Trust account in February to allow for the majority of payments to be completed online.


111/23: Invoices for Payment:

A list of payments to be made in March had been circulated, a copy of which is filed with these minutes. In response to queries from Cllr. Bunyan, the Clerk explained that the hire of the skip had been for the benefit of allotment holders, which is arranged on average every five years or so; the payment to Cranbrook Iron was for the manufacture of individual locking plates following removal of the window stays. Referring to the payment for Coffee Shop Media, issues with delivery of The Cake, were also raised. Cllr. Fletcher had spoken to a local postman who had informed him that 3 delivery staff had left recently and were not going to be replaced. Members agreed that we need to look at an alternative provider for delivering the magazine.  With all queries answered, Cllr. Pethurst proposed the payments be approved as presented, this was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed.


These included:

Policy and Resources                         £ 26,433.85

Properties & Burial Grounds              £   6,084.92

Environmental Management            £  1,899.71


      Total         £34,418.48


Cllr. Gilbert had approved additional expenditure of £1,750 for work on the roof of Vestry Hall Cottage, this would be paid on completion, out of Committee to avoid any further deterioration and more costly repairs.


Two members are required to log in to the account and authorise the payments. The Clerk asked if this could be completed after the meeting Thursday evening and before 3pm on Friday, thus avoiding any delay in our creditors receiving payment.


112/23: KCC Audit Programme 2024-2025:

A letter had been received from the Senior Auditor at Kent County Council advising us of a 5% increase in fees, bringing the total cost of the internal audit for 2024-2025 to £1,158 + VAT. We had also been advised of the work programme for 2024-2025, which had been circulated to the Committee prior to the meeting. A copy is attached to these minutes, for the benefit of all Members. Cllr. Pethurst proposed the work programme’s internal audit control objectives as presented, be formally approved. This was seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed.


113/23: Update on renewal of unmetered supply contract for streetlighting:

The Clerk reported that although the Committee had chosen a supplier from a list provided by the utility broker, the broker was having difficulty in securing the fixed contract for the unmetered supplies. As a result of the suppliers being extremely slow to respond on pricing, from 1st March we are being charged the default out of contract price by Npower. The broker has confirmed in writing, that they will cover the difference in cost between the out of contract rates and the new contracted rates, on the understanding that the new contract is signed through them. Members suggested the Clerk seek guidance from Ofgem, if a suitable provider cannot be found in the near future. Cllr. Bunyan also suggested we investigate the costs involved in using solar powered streetlights.


114/23: Community Centre/Medical Centre:

Cllr. Fletcher reported that for all those not already aware, we had been unsuccessful in securing the OPE grant. The Annual Parish Meeting on Wednesday 24th April will focus on the provision of a community centre/ library/youth service and medical centre. We need to have a fresh look at demand and predicted usage. Baxall Construction, the company that had delivered the Southborough Hub, have committed to providing us a fully costed plan up to RIBA stage 4, by the end of March.


115/23: Staffing:

The Clerk was seeking approval to participate in any relevant training to benefit the Council and to enable career progression. Cllr. Pethurst proposed the Clerk should be permitted to self-approve any training costing less than £80. This was seconded by Cllr. Hatcher and agreed. Members agreed unanimously that budget allocation should be not be a deciding factor on whether training courses for members or staff are attended.


116/23: Quote for pothole repairs in the Regal Car Park:

A particularly deep pothole had been identified as a safety hazard by a parishioner. On further inspection, there were several potholes in the same area that required attention. A quote of £1,900 + VAT had been received from Mayell Groundworks to complete repairs to 7 smaller areas and one larger area measuring 3m x 2m, in that section of the car park. Cllr. Pethurst proposed the quote be accepted, this was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed. It was also agreed to seek an additional quote for the repair of two large holes near the recently demolished Tanyard Dental Surgery, which it was hoped, could be repaired at the same time.


117/23: IT Support:

The Clerk advised she was still in the process of requesting quotes.


118/23: Grant Applications:

  1. a) Cranbrook Goes Nuts in May:

A request for £700 had been received from Cranbrook in Bloom to help towards the cost of the ‘Cranbrook Goes Nuts in May’ event for 2024.

Members discussed the application at length and found it particularly difficult to understand and separate previous expenditure incurred by other events under the control of Cranbrook in Bloom, as the latest set of accounts for the Charity were for the period ending December 2022. With this in mind, Cllr. Hatcher proposed the £700 requested be awarded, subject to the receipt of a full breakdown of income and expenditure for the event in 2023 and a more detailed breakdown of how the organisation intends to spend the money awarded. This was seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed.


  1. b) We are Beams:

We are Beams is a charitable organisation that provides comprehensive support services to families of children and young people with any form of physical, learning or sensory impairment.


A request for a donation of £250 towards the cost of running the family advice service had been received. They are currently supporting 30 families from Cranbrook & Sissinghurst Parish. Cllr. Pethurst proposed a donation of £250 be awarded, this was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed. It was also suggested that if the Charity had any information leaflets promoting the organisation, that some are provided for the parish office.


119/23: Items For Information:

  1. a) Fletcher reported that the Leigh Academy Trust have appealed the Borough Council’s decision to list the sixth form centre as an Asset of Community Value. A review is currently being undertaken by the Borough Council and a decision will be made by 28th March. We have not been informed of the grounds, on which they are appealing. Helen Grant MP has written to Simon Beamish, Chief Executive of Leigh Academies Trust, requesting an explanation.


b) Cllr. Fletcher advised that Cllr. Selby is working hard to collate the evidence to present to KCC in support of the need to provide a non selective secondary school, for the area. Leaflets will be created to galvanise support from residents and parents. He will be asking Policy & Resources to approve funding for the printing costs.

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