The meeting was held remotely using Zoom software.

PRESENT: Cllrs. Beck (in the Chair), Fairweather, Fletcher, Gilbert, Smith and Warne.

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.

96/20: Internal finance check:

Cllr. Beck confirmed that the internal finance check had been completed and everything was in order. The reconciliation has been signed and returned to the Clerk.

97/20: Authorisation of payments made after the February meeting:

A list of payments totalling £10,951.45 made after the February meeting, is filed with these minutes.

98/20: Transfers of monies between accounts:

The Clerk confirmed that no transfers had been necessary

99/20: Invoices for Payment:

A list of payments to be made in March had been circulated for approval, a copy of which is filed with these minutes. It was proposed by Cllr. Beck, seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed. In addition it was agreed to authorise payment of any invoices received prior to the end of the month, which relate to the current financial year.

These included:

Policy and Resources                          £16,995.31

Properties & Burial Grounds              £  3,342.04

Environmental Management              £     802.59        

Total          £21,139.94

In response to Cllr. Beck, Cllr. Fletcher advised it had been necessary to bring the VAT report up to date, Elysian Associates had undertaken this for us. Their advice is essential in deciding how we attribute ownership of the Community Centre and how the build is approached.

Two members are required to log in to the account and authorise the payments after the minutes are adopted on Thursday evening.

100/20: Community Centres/Medical Centre:

Cllr. Fletcher advised the brief for the Technical Project Manager is almost complete.

The Business Case has been updated to reflect several points raised by a parishioner.

The outline room size for space in the Community Centre is being shared with potential users.

Cllr. Smith gave a brief update on the Sissinghurst Village Hall. The valuation required under Charity Commission rules has been undertaken by a RICS Chartered Surveyor. It has been confirmed that is not necessary to advertise disposal as no competitor exists and the Trustees have declared they are satisfied best value has been achieved. The process continues to move towards the signing of the Option Agreement, albeit slowly.

101/20: Parish Warden Contract:

The Clerk reminded Members that formal acceptance of the Parish Warden contract had been deferred from last year. Following the advertisement on the Public Contracts Website we had received two submissions in total, one being from the current Parish Warden the other from a company in India.  It was proposed by Cllr. Fairweather, seconded by Cllr. Smith and agreed to formally accept the tender submitted by Mr Hatcher in March 2020, which would run for another four years.

102/20: Approval to sign up for HP Instant Ink:

Following the purchase of a new desktop printer we had benefitted from a free trial of the HP Instant Ink service. It was noted that several Committee Members already used the service at home and had thought it good value for money. Cllr. Beck proposed that we sign up for the £9.99 per month frequent printing option, this was seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed.  

103/20: Parish Cake advertising debts 2020/21.

The Clerk advised that there were £100 of outstanding debts from the Autumn Edition of Parish Cake which needed to be written off before the end of the financial year. She confirmed that all efforts to chase payment had been unsuccessful. It was proposed by Cllr. Beck, seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed to write of the debt. It was also agreed to advise Space Marketing who now undertake the advertising sales on our behalf, not to accept any sales from either debtor in the future, unless the debt is cleared and payment for future advertising is made in advance.

104/20: Replacement streetlight lantern Bakers Cross:

We had been subject to several incidents of vandalism recently, one of which was a streetlight in Golford Road. Due to substantial catapult damage, it could not be repaired. The cost of replacement was £325 + VAT. Cllr. Beck proposed approval of the replacement cost, this was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.

105/20: Tennis Club:

Cllr. Beck gave a brief update. All the grant forms for the replacement lighting had been submitted to Sports England and he is awaiting an update from David Leckie on the progress of the planning application. It was agreed that Buss Murton would be best placed to advise us on updating the lease as they were dealing with the transfer of the land for the new Sissinghurst Village Hall.

106/20: Cranbrook Sports Club Lease:

The Clerk advised that she is awaiting a response from the Sports Club as to whether they will accept the costs of surrendering the old lease before a new lease can be implemented, as this involved additional costs which had been raised by our solicitor at Buss Murton.

107/20: Staffing:

The Clerk was seeking approval to sign up to KALC training ‘All about the AGAR’ at a cost of £35 + VAT. It was proposed by Cllr. Beck seconded by Cllr. Warne and agreed to authorise the expenditure.

The Clerk advised that that the new living wage for anyone over the age of 23 years had been confirmed as £8.91 per hour. The Caretakers salaries would be increased from 1st April 2021

to reflect this. The Clerks appraisal dates have been set for 17th and 24th March.

108/20: Grant Applications:

a) Request for funding from Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance:

A letter had been received requesting a donation of £500 to help fund the cost of 2 new Oxylog 3000+ ventilators. It was proposed by Cllr. Fletcher, seconded by Cllr. Fairweather and agreed to offer a contribution of £250 towards the project.

b) Citizen’s Advice Tunbridge Wells & District:

In November last year a grant of £1,000 was awarded to CATWD, with the proviso that if there are sufficient funds available towards the end of the year, they would be invited to submit a request for additional funding. This had been received, along with an explanation of how the bureau had adapted their way of working during the pandemic. The demand for free impartial advice on issues such as debt, employment and housing had increased and was expected to become something of a tsunami when the measures that the government have put in place to support people and businesses come to an end, later this year. With this in mind, Cllr. Smith proposed a further grant of £1,000 is offered to support the service. This was seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed.

109/20: Items for Information:

Cllr. Warne advised the NDP Steering Group were holding numerous working group meetings to work through all the comments received from the consultation.

She also reported on two planning applications. Marie Bolton the Case Officer for the Brick Kiln site had advised that Persimmon had withdrawn their Reserved Matters application. The landowner had sold the site to another developer, Hill Residential Ltd. A meeting with the PC to discuss a new Reserved Matters application is expected, they have until February 2023 to submit this. The other application is for 35 houses and a new pre-school facility on the Long Field. The Clerk advised this was on the next Planning Committee agenda.

Cllr. Fletcher reported that the Tourism Group were working to create a new website to promote staycations and improve tourism in the area and would be seeking some funding from the Parish Council to help with this. There were some events planned for the summer months which Cllr. Waters would report on at Full Council.

Cllr. Smith advised that St. George’s Institute had received the 2nd and 3rd tranche of local restriction grants totalling £3,600.

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