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


APOLOGIES: Cllr. Mills.


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: St. Dunstan’s Churchyard:

It was reported that during bad weather at the beginning of January, a branch had broken off one of the lime trees and was perilously balanced on some remaining lower branches, directly above the parking spaces on Carriers Road. Cllr. Pethurst had authorised expenditure of £219.50 + VAT to have the branch safely removed by Living Forest.


23/23: Golford Cemetery:

The chapel organ which had been donated to Mr. Peter Wells to use for spare parts, had now been collected.


The Clerk advised we had received a request for a permit to erect a double memorial at Golford Cemetery on plot R_43 and R_44. The size requested was the same as memorials that had been given permission recently. It was proposed by Cllr. Gilbert, seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed to approve the request as presented.


24/23: Sissinghurst Cemetery:

a) Request to reduce the height of some trees:

A request from two of the residents of Church Mews to reduce the height of two yew trees on the southern boundary of the Cemetery had been discussed at the previous meeting.  The Clerk had clarified the request was to reduce the height of the trees to a maximum of 3 metres. We had also received an email from other residents of Church Mews who did not support the trees being reduced in height, believing that the level of privacy afforded to the Cemetery should be retained.  Members examined the photographs provided of the trees and discussed a possible compromise. It was agreed to seek quotes to have the trees reduced to eaves height, reshaped and to have the ivy removed, all of which would contribute to the overall health of the trees. The residents seeking the reduction had offered to cover the cost of the tree work, however as their request was not being permitted in full, it was likely their offer to pay would be withdrawn. It was agreed that we could still seek a contribution to the work.


The Clerk advised we would need to seek permission from the Tree Officer at TWBC before any work on the trees could be undertaken.


25/23: Cranbrook & Sissinghurst War Memorials:

The Clerk advised that we had received an email from the national charity ‘War Memorials Trust’ following a complaint from a member of the public regarding the inscriptions being difficult to read on Sissinghurst War Memorial.

We have since had it cleaned by a local military grave restorer who was also an ex-serviceman at a cost of £250. The Committee will examine the memorial at the site meeting in July, to see if any further restoration is necessary.


Cllr. Gilbert had raised concern at the condition of the metal work of the Howitzer gun located at Cranbrook War Memorial. He had spoken to Rob Longley of Cranbrook Iron regarding repairs.

Mr Longley had offered to liaise with some volunteers from the Men’s Shed who are keen to help with the restoration. Any costs involved will be brought before this Committee to be considered.


26/23: Public Toilet Buildings – Crane Lane & Sissinghurst:

The Clerk was saddened to report that the police had advised us of further anti-social behaviour in the public toilets in Cranbrook. The report included defecating on the floor of the cubicle and the smearing of human excrement on the walls. A crime report had been created to record the incident.


We had been informed by Fernham Homes that they intended to submit a planning application to move the location of the ladies’ entrance from the side, to the front of the public toilets building in Sissinghurst, to help resolve an issue with the existing right of way over the Jubilee Field. Cllr. Bunyan was surprised that as yet no application appeared to have been submitted.


27/23: Angley Cottage:

No issues were raised. Cllr. Bunyan would be liaising with the tenants to arrange a convenient date in the Spring, for the annual inspection of the property.


28/23: Vestry Hall:

a) Quote for additional windows to be double glazed:

When the survey for the windows was undertaken it had been discovered that the balcony window and rear entrance passage window had been omitted from the original quote. The balcony window would cost an additional £4,795 + VAT. There were two options for the rear entrance hallway, option 1 being 3 separate slimline units at a cost of £3,295 + VAT or option 2 a 3-pane horizontal sliding unit at a cost of £2,365 + VAT. The Committee agreed that the double glazing was a long-term solution that required our full commitment. Cllr. Gilbert proposed the quote for balcony window and option 2 for the rear entrance hall be accepted as presented. This was seconded by Cllr. Newman and agreed.  The Clerk advised she would need to contact the Conservation Officer at TWBC to see if further listed building consent was required for the additional windows.


b) Cranbrook in Bloom Presentation Evening 2025:

The Clerk advised Cranbrook in Bloom had been into the office to book the Charity’s presentation evening for 2025. Historically the Charity had been allowed use of the hall free of charge. Due to the escalating running costs of the hall and in fairness to all other hirer’s, the Committee decided the Charity would need to make a minimal payment of £15 towards the heating costs. The Clerk would advise the Charity of the Committee’s decision.


c) Party Wall Agreement:

Cllr. Gilbert advised that the neighbouring cottage, attached to the Vestry Hall had historically suffered with damp and issues around water leakage into the property, in the area where the roofs meet. We have accepted responsibility for repairs in the past, but none appear to have resolved the situation adequately. As the property is due to be sold in the near future, it may be an appropriate time to seek a party wall agreement so all parties are aware of their responsibilities going forward.


Cllr. Gilbert proposed that a proper agreement is essential and we should seek further advice on obtaining this important legal document; this was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed.  Cllr. Bunyan was aware of a specialist surveyor based in Staplehurst, who dealt with party wall agreements. She would contact her to seek advice on the most appropriate way forward.


d) Sound system:

Cllr. Newman had previously asked the Committee to consider upgrading the current sound system for the hall, to include lapel microphones. She had spoken to the Theatre Manager at Queens Hall for advice and hoped to be in a position to present a report to the Committee at the next meeting.


29/23 Vestry Hall Cottage:

The Council had received a request from a potential buyer of neighbouring property, The Cottage, Stone Street, to ask if the Council would consider allowing access through the garden of Vestry Hall Cottage, to enable easier access to the back of the property. The Committee discussed the implications this would have on Vestry Hall Cottage. Cllr. Gilbert proposed the request should be denied, this was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed.


Cllr. Gilbert advised he intended to undertake the annual inspection of Vestry Hall Cottage in the near future. In response to Cllr. Gilbert, the Clerk was unsure if the repair works to the cottage which had been approved, had been completed? She would make enquiries with the tenants tomorrow.


30/23: Parish Office:

A couple of emails had been received in response to the article published in the last parish magazine, requesting help to redesign the office space. One a sales pitch to sell office furniture, the other an expression of interest from an undergraduate, which has yet to be followed up.


In response to Cllr. Gilbert, the Clerk advised that setting the alarm for the office space continued to be problematic at times. It was agreed to seek a quote to service the system. It was also agreed to seek quotes to upgrade the CCTV system.


31/23: Noticeboards & Bus Shelters:

The Clerk advised that maintenance on the parish noticeboards was on a list to be undertaken by Roddy Homes, in exchange for permission for them to place a site cabin on land belonging to the Parish Council.


32/23: Benches & Cycle Racks:

Cllr. Bunyan enquired about the payment process for the installation of the Coronation commemorative benches in Sissinghurst. The Clerk advised the provider would need to submit an invoice, which would be processed in the normal manner.


33/23: Red Telephone Kiosks:

The project to site a defibrillator in the red telephone kiosk at Baker’s Cross has been reallocated to the Community Development Committee to progress. Cllr. Newman asked if the phone box library currently using the kiosk, would remain if the project went ahead. Members felt that if sufficient space was available, both facilities should be available to the community.


34/23: Committee meeting times:

The Committee had been asked to consider changing the meeting time to later in the evening. There were several issues to consider in changing the time, including the staff hours in clerking the meeting.

It is thought that NALC are lobbying the government to reintroduce hybrid meetings that was so successful when Covid originally emerged. Several options were suggested, that will need further consideration.


35/23: Items for Information:  

None raised.

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