MINUTES OF A SITE MEETING OF THE PROPERTIES & BURIAL GROUNDS COMMITTEE HELD ON TUESDAY 18th JULY 2023
PRESENT: Cllr. Gilbert (in the Chair), Cllrs. Bunyan, Mills, Newman and Pethurst.
APOLOGIES: Cllr. Kings.
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.
1/23: Election of Vice Chairman.
Cllr. Gilbert nominated Cllr. Mills to take the position of Vice Chairman, this was seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and agreed.
2/23: Permission to erect a double memorial on plots S1_36 & S1_37 in Cranbrook Cemetery:
The Clerk tabled a drawing of the memorial being requested. The drawing showed the height to be 4’6” the width 6’ and the length 6’2” although the Clerk had been assured by the Stonemason that the length would be amended to 6’ as previously advised. Cllr. Pethurst proposed the request be approved, subject to the length being no more than 6’, this was seconded by Cllr. Newman. One member voted against approval, as he felt the memorial was too imposing and ornate for a rural cemetery. The remaining members voted in favour, therefore the motion was carried. Members did discuss amending the rules and regulations restricting the size permitted for double memorials. The Clerk agreed to present a draft amendment for consideration at the next meeting.
3/23: Vaping in Vestry Hall:
The Clerk advised that there was no law which forbids the use of vaping products in enclosed spaces. However, as the owner of the property the Parish Council are entitled to impose a restriction. Cllr. Gilbert proposed that vaping should not be allowed in the hall, this was seconded by Cllr. Newman and agreed. The Clerk would draft an amendment to the current Terms and Conditions of Hire and devise appropriate signage to advise visitors and hirers.
4/23: Allocation of Sites for Responsibility:
The allocated areas of responsibility were agreed as follows:
Vestry Hall Complex Cllr. Gilbert
Sissinghurst Cemetery and War Memorial Cllr. Mills
Golford Cemetery Cllr. Pethurst
Angley Cottage Cllr. Bunyan
Noticeboards/Shelters/Benches/Cycle Racks/Red Telephone Kiosks and Cranbrook War Memorial Cllr. Kings
Crane Lane & Sissinghurst Public Toilet Buildings Cllr. Gilbert
St. Dunstan’s Churchyard Cllr. Newman
5/22: Issues from Inspections:
- a) Vestry Hall Complex: The following issues were raised:
- Museum display cabinet lighting in Vestry Hall
Cllr. Pethurst asked the Committee to consider upgrading the lighting in the display cabinet. It was agreed he would prepare a specification and costing for the project, to present at the Committee’s next meeting.
- Newman asked the Committee to consider upgrading the current sound system for the hall, to include lapel microphones. It was agreed she would prepare a specification and costing for the project to present at the Committee’s next meeting.
- Gilbert advised the Committee that following the discovery of a leak in the roof above the Tower Room that he had authorised expenditure of £1,250 for emergency repairs, which had now been completed. Moisture readings will need to be taken in several areas where damp is evident.
- Gilbert advised we had received a quote to decorate the Tower Room. It included repairing an area of plaster that had been damaged due to the above mentioned leak. Cllr. Gilbert proposed the quote of £900, not including materials be accepted, this was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed. The Caretakers had begun using the room for storage of their personal possessions again, they would be formally asked to remove them, with immediate effect. It was also agreed to use the wooden flooring that had been left over from the hall floor, providing there is sufficient available, to replace the current flooring.
- A small piece of a previous repair to the stone mullion window in the main staircase had fallen away. On inspection, Members agreed that repairs to the windows in the stairwell were necessary. The Clerk would contact the specialist stonemason we had used previously, to see if he would quote for the work.
- Gilbert reported he was working with an energy company to look at the hall’s hot water supply and alternative heat sources with a view to replacing the current boilers which are close to the end of their lifespan.
- Members examined the Council Chamber chairs and agreed they needed to be replaced, as had been noted in the Committee’s Five Year Plan. The Clerk was awaiting a call back from Southborough Town Council to find out the provider of their newly purchased chairs, she would also make enquiries with Sutton Valance Parish Council as they had also recently purchased new chairs for their hall.
- It was agreed to add refurbishing the Vestry Hall kitchen to the current Five Year Plan.
- Gilbert advised that we had received a quote to replace a small window in Vestry Hall Cottage, repair the guttering, replace, prime, seal and paint an area of the fascia to the roof apex which had rotted. Cllr. Gilbert proposed the quote of £2,250, which included the provision of scaffolding for the duration of the works, be accepted. This was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed.
- b) War Memorial Cleaning:
It was agreed the Parish Council would write to Hill Development to request they cover the cost of deep cleaning the War Memorial at the top of the High Street, as soon as the work to change the road layout has been completed.
- c) Sissinghurst Cemetery:
- Members felt the Cemetery was looking very good, although it was agreed the Clerk would chase the grounds contractors to remove ivy that was choking some of the trees and to tidy the perimeter. There was evidence of deadly nightside and brambles growing within a large rhododendron, which also needed removal.
- One of the oak posts securing the entrance gate had rotted and was unstable. Cllr. Gilbert would seek some quotes for replacement.
- d) Penny Farthing:
Members agreed unanimously that the bicycle looked very nice in its current state. The Parish Council had received a request for it to be painted black, however Members felt it would blend into the background and be a less striking gateway to the village if this was undertaken.
The metal may still darken further; therefore, Cllr. Gilbert proposed that Members should review the decision not to paint it, again in another 18 months, this was seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and agreed.
- e) Sissinghurst Toilets:
Cllr. Gilbert reported that Tunbridge Wells Borough Council had served notice to terminate their lease on the toilets. It was now up to the Parish Council to decide whether we are prepared to take them on. Information on the current costs of running the toilets had been received. The Committee voted unanimously to keep the facility open and to approach the current cleaners to continue. A formal quote had yet to be received, but the cost was believed to be similar to the cost of cleaning the Crane Lane toilets in Cranbrook.
- f) Golford Cemetery:
- The grounds contractors had reported a surge in mole hills at the Cemetery, which causes a problem when mowing and affects the appearance of the Cemetery. The Clerk was awaiting quotes from two pest control companies to deal with the issue.
It was delegated to Cllr. Gilbert to decide which quote to accept.
- The Parish Warden had reported degrading of some of the paths in the Cemetery. It was agreed to seek quotes to repair the worst areas.
- A decision on what to do with the Chapel organ had not yet been reached. There were still avenues to explore, as the Council want to see it go to a good home.
- g) St. Dunstan’s Churchyard:
- Gilbert reported he had approved expenditure of £180 to fill in a collapsed grave in the Churchyard, which had now been completed.
- The Clerk agreed to chase the grounds contractors to clear the gullies which were becoming overgrown again.
6/22: Items for Information:
The Clerk advised she was awaiting confirmation from Kent County Council as to whether there were any Rural Bus Stop Grants available.