MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE HELD ON TUESDAY 21st NOVEMBER 2023
PRESENT: Cllr. Fairweather (in the Chair), Cllrs. Gilbert, Mills, Page and Pethurst.
APOLOGIES: None received.
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.
22/23: Five Year Plan/Action plan/Budget:
Review of allotment fees:
Cllr. Fairweather explained that the Clerk, himself and Cllr. Pethurst had met last week for a pre-budget meeting and created a draft working budget for consideration. This had been circulated to the Committee Members prior to tonight’s meeting. Due to excessive water supply costs, it had originally been thought that the allotment fees would need to be increased to cover the expenditure, but we had recently received an unexpected refund on the water charges. We could now demonstrate that all expenditure would be covered by the current rental rates and no increase was necessary.
We had been advised by Kent High Weald Project that if we wish to implement the recommendations in the Kent Wildlife Trust Botanical Survey undertaken in the Crane Valley this summer, we would need to commission an up-to-date management plan for the Nature Reserve. This would cost an additional £825. This would take expenditure up to £5,000 for the forthcoming year.
Incorporating these minor amendments, agreed by the Committee, Cllr. Fairweather proposed that the Environmental Management budget for 2024/25 be approved as presented. This was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed. A copy will be filed with these minutes. He also proposed that no additions or amendments to the current Five Year Action Plan were necessary, this was seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and agreed.
23/23: Play Equipment:
New play equipment – slide
Following the last Environmental Management meeting, two further quotes for a stand-alone slide had been received. Taking into account the survey results received earlier in the year, and its suitability to appeal to a wider age group, Cllr. Fairweather proposed the quote from Wicksteed of £11,883 including the wet pour safety surfacing be accepted. This was seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and agreed.
The Clerk reported that the vehicle gate had now been locked to prevent vehicles damaging the main path. It will be kept locked until Spring next year, when the ground becomes firmer again. No other issues were raised.
25/23: Highways Issues:
Cllr. Page had prepared a document listing the 5 main hotspots and possible solutions that had been identified from collating the 75 responses received via email, the web form and the events held in the Vestry Hall and the Parish Room in Sissinghurst. He explained the key requirements and what Kent County Council are prepared to consider when a Highway Improvement Plan is submitted, along with the possible costs associated. Before any plan can be submitted the Parish Council will need to approve the content. One of the key areas identified for inclusion was the change of the speed limit on the A229 at Sissinghurst from 50mph to 40mph, which in itself is not a particularly costly project, however, it does require a new Traffic Regulation Order. It would also rely on crash data and an assessment of the natural speed of the road and as it had already been lowered within the last eight years, he had been advised that success was unlikely. That being said, it can still be included in a list of top priorities in the Parish.
KCC have advised they will only consider a maximum of two initiatives, in order to manage our expectations. Cllr. Fairweather proposed the 5 hotspots, identified from the feedback received, be accepted for listing in the submission, this was seconded by Cllr. Mills and agreed. Cllr. Page would research the next steps in the process with KCC and work on a draft application for all members to consider at the next Full Council meeting.
Cllr. Page was thanked for the amount of information he had provided to the Committee. It was also agreed to write a letter of thanks to Mr. Rampling who had begun the HIP process when he was a member of the Council and had continued to represent the parish on the A262 project, to have the road downgraded to a ‘B’ road.
26/23: Car Parks:
a) E.V. Charge points update:
The Clerk reported that no update was available and we continue to monitor the expenditure against the income received. A volunteer is needed to research alternative suppliers.
b) Relining in Jockey Lane Car Park:
The Clerk had approached three companies to request a quote for remarking the spaces in the Car Park, along with the hatched area at the top and the disabled bay on the left hand side. We had received one response from AJL Roadmarking Ltd, they had previously undertaken the lining of the electric vehicle bays. Their quote was £950 + VAT which would be increased by a further 25% if the work is undertaken at night or during a weekend. Cllr. Fairweather proposed the quote be accepted, with the work being done during the day to avoid any additional costs. We will request the work is completed during a school holiday to limit the disruption to users. This was seconded by Cllr. Mills and agreed.
27/23: Litter Picks and Litter Bins:
Cllr. Mills reported that Cranbrook Primary School had recently completed a litter pick in the Town. Cllr. Fairweather asked her to pass on the Council’s appreciation for their efforts.
28/23: Street Lighting:
a) Quote to replace the lantern on column 18:
A quote to replace the lantern at a cost of £350 + VAT had been received from our regular maintenance contractor. The street light is situated on Angley Road, adjacent to Sheafe Drive. Cllr. Fairweather proposed the quote be accepted as presented, this was seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and agreed.
b) Quote to replace column 5, Hawkhurst Road, junction with Glassenbury Road:
The cost of the replacement column had been approved in principle, at a previous meeting, although we were still awaiting an updated quote from UKPN for the cost of connecting the new column. As this is a requisite cost, it was delegated to Cllr. Fairweather to approve the quote on receipt.
c) Quote to replace the lantern on column 31:
A replacement lantern was needed for this column in Goddards Close. Replacement parts to repair the existing one, were obsolete and no longer available. We had received a quote of £350 + VAT from our regular maintenance contractor. It was proposed by Cllr. Fairweather, seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and agreed to accept the quote as presented.
29/23: Any Other Environmental Management Issues:
a) Quote for clearing foliage and a tree from the culvert:
A quote of £525 had been received from SKF Contractors to clear the area around the Crane Valley culvert of foliage and a tree that had self-seeded. This had been discussed at the previous meeting and it had been delegated to Cllr. Fletcher to meet the contractor to clarify the extent of the work required. Following an on-site meeting, Cllr. Fletcher had given permission for the contractor to undertake the work detailed in the quote.
b) Tree Safety Report:
A report had been commissioned by Living Forest to assess all the trees that are the responsibility of the Parish Council. The report had detailed the work recommended, including photographs and had been shared with all members of the Council. It would be necessary to apply for permission from the Tunbridge Wells Tree Officer, as some had preservation orders and others were in a Conservation Area. It was agreed the Clerk would undertake this as swiftly as possible.
c) Quotes relating to the Tree Safety Report:
Three companies had been approached to undertake the work assuming permission is granted by the Borough. One had given an overall cost per area instead of breaking the work down to each individual specification, as had been requested, so their quote had been discounted because the costs were more difficult to compare. Members agreed to split the work between the remaining two companies, Living Forest and Ben Hatcher. Their quotes had ranged between £5,065 and £5,655 for all the work recommended. It was delegated to Cllr. Fairweather to divide the specification between them, ensuring best value is obtained on behalf of the Council.
30/23: Items for Information:
Cllr. Gilbert advised that Cranbrook Sports Club had agreed to deal with the trees on the land they lease from us, that KCC Highways had advised required attention.