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.

 61/23: 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.

 62/23: Authorisation of payments made after the October meeting:

A list of payments totalling £16,370.67 made after the October meeting, is filed with these minutes.

 63/23: Transfers of monies between accounts, including savings accounts to maximise interest revenue:

Following on from the Interest Rate Report discussed at the last meeting. Cllr. Pethurst had prepared and circulated a report detailing the options open to us to move the savings we have, to maximise the interest revenue we can obtain. Five different options to move monies around had been presented with the projected revenue gains. Following a full discussion, Cllr. Pethurst proposed selecting option 3 as detailed below, this was seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed.

PROPOSED INVESTMENT 3 £500k Switch + Unity
Bank Type Balance Rate (Annual) Interest Earnt (Month) Increase
HSBC Money Market Account £ 614,199.82 4.73% £                         2,420.97
Lloyds Instant Access £   30,249.44 1.30% £                               32.77
Lloyds 32 Day Notice £ 124,499.22 2.60% £                             269.75
Unity Instant Access £ 100,000.00 2.75% £                             229.17
Total £ 868,948.48  £                         2,952.66  £ 1,116.67

64/23: Invoices for Payment:

A list of payments to be made in November had been circulated, a copy of which is filed with these minutes. Cllr. Pethurst proposed the payments be approved as presented, this was seconded by Cllr. Hatcher and agreed.

These included:

Policy and Resources                          £10,545.01

Properties & Burial Grounds            £  2,805.76

Environmental Management             £    693.35

General Funding                                  £  1,375.50

 Total           £15,419.62

The Clerk advised that Cllr. Gilbert had also authorised the cleaning of the Sissinghurst War Memorial at a cost of £250 and the purchase and planting of three rose shrubs at Cranbrook War Memorial at a cost of £35.85. The invoices for these would be paid on receipt and appear on the list of payments between Committee next month.

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

65/23: KCC Internal Audit Report:

The Clerk advised that this item would need to be deferred until next month as the Auditor had postponed her scheduled visit last week, because of the severe weather that had been expected. She is now expected on the 16th November.

 66/23: Policies:

a) Complaints Procedure:

A draft complaint procedure has been circulated to the Committee, along with the current adopted version. A suggestion to a minor change in wording was agreed, along with corrections to typographical errors. With these amendments agreed, it was proposed by Cllr. Pethurst to accept the draft as presented. This was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed. A copy is filed with these minutes.

67/23: Community Centres/Medical Centre:

Cllr. Fletcher was pleased to report that our application to list some of the redundant buildings at the Snowfields Academy as Community Assets has been accepted by TWBC. They now have 8 weeks to consider the application. Subject to approval we would be able to apply for government match funding to convert the buildings into a medical centre and pre-school. The G. P’s have also expressed an interest in investing in the project. Our current MP and future parliamentary candidates have offered to support us by meeting with Gillian Keegan, the current Secretary of State for Education to give more weight to our case. A lot will hinge on us acquiring the buildings.

Cllr. Fletcher has also spoken to the Contracts Manager at Hill Development, they have offered to help us write the brief for an architect to design a community centre, in the Crane Valley; looking specifically at the varying levels of the site and how best to use them effectively. We will need to acquire a topographical survey of the entire Crane Valley to progress further.

In response to Cllr. Hatcher and the delay in demolishing the Tanyard Dental Surgery, Cllr. Gilbert reported that despite numerous efforts to chase, we are still awaiting the disconnection certificate from UKPN. This is needed before the demolition can go ahead.

 68/23: Staffing:

The Clerk reported that confirmation had been received from the National Joint Council for Local Government Services that agreement had been reached on the rates of pay for 2023/2024. Each scale point would be increased by £1,925 annually, with effect from 1st April 2023, which equates to around 5%. NALC are encouraging employers to implement this pay award and any back pay owed as swiftly as possible.

69/23: Grant Applications:

The Clerk advised she had received the Evaluation Form from Cranbrook Apple Fayre, which had been filed along with copies of the invoices referenced, in the application. She is still waiting to receive a form from Sissinghurst Flower Show Society, for the grant they received in March.

 a) Sponsoring a Christmas Tree at St. Dunstan’s Church:

The Clerk advised the cost of sponsoring a tree was £50, the same as in previous years. Cllr. Hatcher proposed that a tree be sponsored, subject to the condition that if insufficient sponsors are identified and the event does not go ahead, we would expect the money to be returned.  This was seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and agreed.

 70/23: Items for Information:

a) Cllr. Hatcher advised that the trial period for Councillor Surgeries had been successful, therefore they would be continuing on a regular basis. An article advising residents of the surgeries, had been written for the next edition of The Cake.

b) Cllr. Fletcher advised that he was organising a Zoom meeting to discuss education. He has invited the PTA’s and Head Teachers of primary schools from the local area and surrounding parishes. To establish a viable secondary school, it needs to guarantee an intake of 125 pupils every year, culminating in 650 pupils. He has also been advised that The Long Field site, is sufficient to accommodate a school of that size. He is collating the information relating to numbers leaving local primary schools plus the number of homes being built or planned in the area, with the proposed number of bedrooms. This information will help us put together a case to the Department of Education.

c) Cllr. Bunyan advised that the Sissinghurst Flower Show Society AGM was being held in the Parish Room at 7.30pm on Monday 13th Peter Mellor will be guest speaker at the event. All are welcome to attend.

d) Cllr. Hatcher advised he had received information relating to a letter sent by the Department of Levelling up, Housing and Communities. It refers to the High Court Consent Order dated 6th April and the need for the Secretary of State to redetermine the application, for the second phase of Turnden. All those that attended and spoke at the original inquiry held in September 2022, will be given the opportunity to request the inquiry is reopened.

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