MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE PARISH COUNCIL HELD IN THE COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CRANBROOK ON THURSDAY 18th MAY 2023
Public Participation: A member of the public invited Members to take leaflets publicising Cranbrook Goes Nuts in May that is taking place on Sunday 28th May. In addition, volunteers are needed for the children’s craft sessions, if anyone has an hour to spare.
PRESENT: Cllrs. Fletcher (Chair), Bunyan, Fairweather, Gilbert, Hatcher, Kings, Newman, Pethurst, Somers, Stone, Swenson, Tomlinson and Borough Cllrs. Fairweather and Warne (in part).
1/23: Election of Chairman
Cllr. K. Fletcher –nominated by Cllr. Bunyan, seconded by Cllr. Gilbert. There were no further nominations, all members present voted in favour of the proposal. Cllr. Fletcher was elected Chairman and signed the Declaration of Acceptance of Office Register.
2/23: Apologies: Cllr. Mills
3/23: 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.
4/23: To elect a Vice Chairman of the Council:
Cllr. C. Gilbert –nominated by Cllr. Fletcher, seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed.
5/23: To elect a Chairman of Policy & Resources:
Cllr. G. Pethurst – nominated by Cllr. Fletcher, seconded by Cllr. Hatcher and agreed.
6/23: To resolve that absent Councillors may take their declarations at or before a later meeting:
The Clerk confirmed that all Councillors had signed the declaration of Acceptance book prior to the meeting.
7/23: Appointment of members to Committees and election of each Chairman:
Cllr. Mills indicated prior to the meeting which committees she would like to join.
Community Development Committee:
Committee: Cllrs. Gilbert, Hatcher, Fletcher, Newman, Pethurst, Stone and Tomlinson
Chairman: Cllr. Hatcher –nominated by Cllr. Bunyan, seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.
Environmental Management Committee:
Committee: Cllrs. Fairweather, Fletcher, Kings, Mills, Pethurst, Stone and Tomlinson.
Chairman: Cllr. Fairweather – nominated by Cllr. Fletcher, seconded by Cllr. Kings and agreed.
Planning and Preservation Committee:
Committee: Cllrs. Bunyan, Gilbert, Hatcher, Fletcher, Kings, Somers and Swenson
Chairman: Cllr. Bunyan –nominated by Cllr. Kings seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.
Properties & Burial Grounds Committee:
Committee: Cllrs. Bunyan, Gilbert, Kings, Fletcher, Mills, Newman and Pethurst.
Chairman: Cllr. Gilbert – nominated by Cllr. Fletcher, seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed.
Neighbourhood Development Plan Steering Group:
Cllr. Pethurst explained that the NDP Steering Group is made up of Councillors and local parishioners. In response to questions from Cllr. Swenson, Cllr. Pethurst explained the current status of the NDP, clarified elements of the process and advised that the Regulation 16 version is available on the TWBC website. The Plan has been for independent examination, and the comments are currently being addressed. The next step will be to proceed to referendum with the Plan.
Members: Cllrs. Hatcher, Fletcher, Pethurst and Swenson.
Chairman: Cllr. Pethurst – nominated as acting Chair by Cllr. Fletcher, seconded by Cllr. Hatcher and agreed.
The Chairman and Vice-Chairman are ex-officio members of all committees.
The Vice-Chairman of each committee will be elected at the first meeting of the said committee.
8/23: To appointment Delegates and Charity Representatives to other bodies:
Delegates to the Kent Association of Local Councils:
Cllr. Fletcher – Reserve Cllr. Gilbert.
Delegates to the Cranbrook Conservation Area Advisory Committee:
Cllrs. Bunyan and Hatcher.
Delegate to the Cranbrook Tourism Group:
Delegate to Cranbrook Museum:
Delegate to the Citizens Advice:
Delegate to Age Concern:
Delegate to The Hop Pickers Line:
Graham Holmes had previously indicated that he would be happy to continue as our representative and to report the group’s activities to the Parish Council. This was agreed/unchallenged??
Councillors were asked to reaffirm or take on representation on the following Charities:
- Katherine Elizabeth Wood Charity – Cllrs. Hatcher and Newman.
- King George V Playing Field – Cllrs. Somers and Stone.
- John Spicer’s Apprenticing Trust – Cllr. Gilbert.
- Thomas Adrian Veitch Memorial Fund – Cllr. Fletcher.
- George’s Institute – Cllr. Fairweather.
9/23: Confirmation of next year’s Parish Council Meetings:
Parish Council meetings will continue to be held on the second Thursday of each month at 7.30pm. Meetings will be held in the Council Chambers with the exception of the March and October meetings when they will be held in Parish Rooms, Sissinghurst. This was proposed by Cllr. Fletcher, seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed. Meeting cards will be provided for Members as soon as possible.
10/23: To approve and sign as a correct record the minutes of the Full Council meeting held on 13th April 2023:
The Chairman presented the minutes from the meeting held on the 13th April 2023 and enquired if there were any questions regarding the minutes. Cllr. Pethurst refered to item number 172/22 where it is recorded that ‘…Rammell Field is earmarked for development…’. He felt that this was slightly misleading and it should be recorded that it is not earmarked for development, but is one of many sites put forward for housing by Cranbrook School. Following this clarification, the Chairman proposed that they be adopted as a true record. This was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.
11/23: Review and approve Standing Orders, Financial Regulations and policy review schedule:
The Chairman referred to the email circulated by the Clerk which included the link to the relevant page on the website. He advised we have a duty to review them annually. The Data Protection Policy, amended and subsequently approved by the Policy & Resources had been circulated with the agenda for tonight’s meeting.
The Chairman proposed the Policies be adopted as presented and that all the remaining policies, procedures, risk management arrangements and internal finance controls are still relevant and acceptable. This was seconded by Cllr. Hatcher and agreed.
12/23: To review and approve banking arrangements:
Cllr. Fletcher proposed that the Parish Council bank accounts will continue to be held by HSBC, Lloyds and Unity Trust. Variable direct debits would continue to be the payment method for items such as the business rates and some utilities, and BACS would continue for the payment of salaries and their associated costs. This was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.
13/23: To review and make arrangements to reaffirm eligibility for the General Power of Competence:
The Chairman proposed that as Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Parish Council meets the eligibility criteria in terms of Clerks qualifications and the numbers of elected Councillors, that the Council resolves to exercise the General Power of Competence. This was seconded by Cllr. Hatcher and agreed.
14/23: Reports from the Committees:
a. Policy & Resources:
Cllr. Fletcher referred to the minutes of the meeting held on 2nd May and proposed adoption, this was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed.
b. Planning & Preservation:
Cllr. Bunyan referred to the minutes of the meetings held on 18th April and 2nd May. She reported that comments the committee had made regarding the temporary pedestrian access to Jubilee Field during the development by Fernham Homes, had not been taken in to account. The committee felt that using the kissing gate at the far end of the field was not suitable access to the field – you cannot get a pushchair through and it’s a long walk with younger children to the public toilets. More suitable access would be between the bus shelter and the toilets.
c. Properties & Burial Grounds:
The minutes from the last meeting had not been circulated. The minutes will be added to next month’s agenda for approval. However, it was agreed to ratify the spend of:
- £5, 511 for the replacement of a heritage type Windsor LED lantern in St. Dunstan’s Churchyard
- £240.52 + VAT for repairs to the bus shelter at Hartley Court Gardens
This was proposed by Cllr. Fletcher, seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.
d. Community Development:
Cllr. Hatcher advised the next meeting is June 13th.
e. Environmental Management:
The site meeting is scheduled for June 20th.
f. Neighbourhood Plan:
Cllr. Pethurst referred to his comments under item 7/23.
15/23: Reports from Delegates:
a. Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group:
The Chairman read the report which had been provided by Graham Holmes:
The next meeting of the Group is scheduled for the 17th May at Goudhurst
b. Cranbrook Museum:
Cllr. Newman, who is Secretary to the Museum, reported that the 50-year Anniversary celebrations will be taking place on June 17th. She requested that Councillors advise if they wish to attend.
c. Citizens Advice:
Cllr. Hatcher advised that there are leaflets available in the parish office for distribution. Paddock Wood Community Advice Centre have reported a threefold increase in demand.
d. Tourism Group
The next meeting is scheduled for the 22nd May at Cranbrook Museum.
e. John Spicer Apprenticing Charity
Cllr. Gilbert explained that the trust was set up in 1709 to give grants to boys from the parish to assist with apprenticeships. There has been poor take up and the trustees are considering extending to girls. Reaching the target audience with advertising is proving difficult. There will be notices in the Cake and Cllr. Gilbert will send electronic copies of the poster to the Clerks for distribution via ‘Be in the know’ etc.
16/23: Clerk’s Report:
Nothing to report
- The Clerk reported that we had received a letter of thanks from the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance for the grant of £300 that we had recently awarded them.
- A member of the NDP Steering group had written to the council:
‘I am writing to request that the C&S Parish Council follow CPRE lead to write to TWBC Policy Manager to respectfully request that the emerging Local Plan reflects the Secretary of State decision to refuse the allocation AL/CR4 giving the following justification “exceptional circumstances do not exist to justify the proposed development in the AONB and that the development would not be in the public interest”; thereby expressing support from the PC for the landmark decision in favour of protecting ALL AONBs from future large scale planning applications as well as our own exceptional landscape encompassing our picturesque historic town.’
I would also like to request that Mathew Birkenshaw at the Planning Inspectorate be informed of the Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Parish Council support, if given, for the decision of the Secretary of State in Called in Decision.’
The Members discussed the request and agreed that the Chairman write to TWBC Policy Manager as per the request. The Parish Council are not against housing in principle, but the type of housing needs to be right for the area in terms of affordability and respecting the landscape. They did not agree to write to Matthew Birkenshaw.
18/23: Reports from Borough Councillors:
a) Cllr. Warne congratulated Cllr. Fairweather on his re-election. She had just returned from a cabinet meeting at which there had been a reshuffle.Following reports of security and safety issues at Major Clarkes House, she has contacted Bob Heapy, Town & Country Housing CEO, who has responded and is investigating.Time is running out for Rainbow Pre-school. There is concern for where the children will go and the staff redundancies. A meeting is arranged with Cllr. Pethurst to revisit options.
It is thought that Dandara will be resubmitting an application for the land off Mill Lane, Sissinghurst.
The Boundary Commission have announced the plans for the Borough. Cranbrook will no longer be with Benenden, but will now be with Sissinghurst and Frittenden. There are fewer wards and less seats.
b) Cllr. Fairweather explained that the boundary changes mean that Cranbrook, Sissinghurst and Frittenden will be a three-member ward. Re-election of all seats will take place in 2024, and there after by thirds. The general feeling in discussions is that Frittenden will be represented by Cllrs. with links to Cranbrook, and it is feared that as a small, rural farming village they will not get the representation they currently have.The parliamentary ward is also changing and Cranbrook & Sissinghurst will be part of a new ward – Weald of Kent constituency. Being a new constituency there is no incumbent MP. Helen Grant will remain as the candidate for Maidstone. He hopes that the prospective MP will have a rural outlook and an understanding of the issues unique to a rural location. Cllr. Fletcher advised there is an article about boundary changes in the latest edition of The Cake.
19/23: Items for Information:
- Cllr. Fletcher informed that the next edition of the Cake will be available on June 1st. He thanked everyone who had submitted content. He reminded Councillors that they are all trustees of the Jubilee Field, Tomlin Murton and War Memorial Trusts. And therefore, any discussions regarding the trusts involve all Members. He advised that there are ongoing discussions regarding Mrs. Egan’s Right of Way across the Jubilee Field, related to Fernham Homes development. A number of Parish Councils around Cranbrook are equally concerned at the lack of non-selective secondary school in the area. Cllr. Fletcher is forming a group to stand up for the area. Data confirms that the area is a ‘cold point’ in Kent. The area is crying out for a free school that offers non-academic courses. Anyone wishing to be part of the group should contact Cllr. Fletcher following the meeting.
- Cllr. Gilbert – Men’s Shed – installation of the shed at the rugby club is progressing well.
- Cllr. Swenson asked why the footpath at Brick Kiln had been closed 6 weeks for tree works. Cllr Fletcher advised that he and Cllr. Gilbert are in discussion with Hill.
- Cllr. Newman asked if anything can be done about Lloyds Chemist inconsistent opening hours. Cllr. Fletcher advised that the Pharmacist in Ticehurst is due to take over from June 30th. The Chairman asked that the local staff are not blamed for the current situation.
- Cllr. Tomlinson advised he has emailed Kent FA with proposals for the Ball Field. Cranbrook Juniors has been nominated for Kent Grassroots Club of the Year, and one of the coaches has been nominated volunteer of the year.
- Cllr. Fairweather advised that St Georges Institute will be handed over to Fernham in the next three weeks. The gas and electric will shortly be disconnected.
- Cllr. Hatcher enquired about the eligibility for standing as a Parish Councillor. The Clerk advised that a person needs to have been a resident for the preceding 12 months.
- Cllr. Pethurst reminded all that Cranbrook goes Nuts in May is on Sunday 28th May. In addition, he asked the Chairman for an update on the community/medical centre. Cllr. Fletcher replied that the space requirements are being held up by the takeover of Crane Surgery. He has recently visited the new Paddock Wood Community Centre with Tom Dawlings. Part of the space is used for a pre-school during the day and a ballet school during the evening.
The meeting was closed.