MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE PARISH COUNCIL HELD IN PARISH ROOMS, SISSINGHURST ON THURSDAY 9th MARCH 2023
Mr. Huxley, a volunteer from Cranbrook Museum, spoke regarding the museums search for an Administrator/Curator. The Museum Committee was hoping that by bringing the vacant position to the Parish Councillors attention, it would aid finding someone to take on the role. The previous incumbent of the position had been responsible for administrative, curatorial and maintenance roles, which were completed over one and a half days per week. However, the Museum committee would consider splitting the role. There are various teams and personnel to support the role – Education Officer, Publicity Team, Treasurer, Stewards, U3A Gardening Team etc. Training will be provided.
The Councillors suggested that the Museum send the Clerk content for social media, website and the Cake. It was also suggested that the role could be posted on volunteer websites.
There were no further members of the public wishing to speak, the meeting was opened.
PRESENT: Cllrs. Fletcher (Chair), Bunyan, Fairweather, Gilbert, Hatcher, Mills, Pethurst, Rampling, Simpson, Somers, Stone and & Borough Cllr. Warne
156/22: APOLOGIES: Cllrs. Dyke, Kings and Tomlinson, Borough Cllr. Dawlings and County and Borough Cllr. Holden
157/22: 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.
158/22: Minutes of the Previous Meeting to be confirmed:
The Chairman referred to the minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held on 9 February 2023 that had been circulated beforehand by the Clerk. Subject to a few minor alterations highlighted by Cllr. Pethurst, they were agreed for accuracy and proposed for acceptance by Cllr. Fletcher, seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and voted for unanimously by those present at that meeting and signed by the Chair.
159/22: Preparation for Kings Coronation
The Chairman referred to item 119/22 of the recent Policy and Resources minutes and highlighted the ideas for benches. He asked Borough Councillor Warne if there are still funds available from TWBC Community Grants, to which she confirmed there is. Cllr. Fletcher took an action to apply to TWBC for funds to cover costs of benches along the footpath from Sissinghurst to Cranbrook, and for the Ball Field. Mens Shed have offered to help produce the benches for the Ball Field, a grant would be welcomed to cover costs of materials.
The Chairman advised he is not aware of any events that have been organised in Cranbrook or Sissinghurst for the day of the Coronation.
160/22: Community and Medical Centre:
Cllr. Gilbert reported that a meeting had taken place with the Doctors who had committed to supply their specification requirements by early April.
Arrangements for disconnection of the utilities is ongoing in preparation for demolition of the old dental surgery.
The Crane Surgery and Old School Surgery have announced that, following the merger consultation, it had been decided that a merger was not appropriate at this time.
Cllr. Pethurst asked if there is confidence that the Doctors’ input will be received as per the deadline, as it is the medical centre detail that is currently dictating the timeline of the project. Cllr. Fletcher reassured that the Doctors are aware they must adhere to the deadline.
161/22: Chairman’s Report
The Chairman reported on several items; he had recently had a meeting at Cranbrook School who are hoping to be able to announce their new head on Monday. They had discussed car parking issues in Jockey Lane including EV points and the possibility of the school providing units on site for teachers. He also raised the issue of the schools floodlights over-spilling the school grounds. The school were very supportive of Cllr. Fletchers email to the local primary schools regarding lack of educational opportunities in the parish.
The Chairman reported there is interest in setting up an education pressure group, and that he has contacted a company who specialise in collating and analyzing data on schools.
He thanked Cllr. Pethurst and Deputy Clerk Lori Ham for the work they have done on a complaint to Utility Aid regarding the electricity contract. He also thanked the Clerks and Cllrs. Pethurst and Dyke who have been working to resolve issues with BP Pulse.
He has written to Hill developers regarding the problems created by the traffic lights.
The application for a £3000 grant from TWBC Community Fund, on behalf of Cranbrook in Bloom, had been successful. Cllrs. congratulated the Chairman on the success of the grant funding.
Approval of Committee Reports as detailed below:
162/22: Policy & Resources:
Cllr. Pethurst referred to the minutes of the meeting held on the 7th March 2023. There were no questions. Cllr. Pethurst highlighted that the suggestion for Mens Shed to help with Coronation benches had been meet with enthusiasm. There is a risk that because of the failure of Utility Aid to recognise the number of meters the council have, there may be unbudgeted costs associated with electricity. A formal complaint has been sent to Utility Aid regarding their failure. Cllr. Pethurst had meet with Cllrs. Fletcher, Dyke and the Clerk to prepare for an upcoming meeting with BP Pulse to agree on a way forward.
Cllr. Pethurst proposed the minutes be adopted, this was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed.
163/22: Planning & Preservation:
Cllr. Bunyan referred to the minutes of the meetings held on 21st February 2023 and 7th March. There were no questions.
164/22: Delegate Reports:
- a) Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group: Fletcher read out a statement from Graham Holmes: The next meeting of the Group will take place in Goudhurst on 5th April
- b) Tourism Group: Fletcher read out a statement from Graham Holmes: The next meeting of the Group will take place on the 27th March at Cranbrook Museum
- c) Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group: Fletcher read out a statement from Graham Holmes: The next meeting of the Group will take place in Goudhurst on 5th April
- d) Age Concern: Simpson reported on a successful lunch that had taken place last week at the Milkhouse that had been funded by a grant.
- e) Museum and History Society:
Cllr. Pethurst reported that the museum will reopen on April 1st. The first exhibition is old pubs of Cranbrook, which he highly recommended visiting. Cranbook Colony artwork collection is regularly added to. He expressed his surprise at that the number of people who have lived in Cranbrook for many years and were unaware of the museum’s existence.
165/22: Clerks Report:
The Clerk advised the Councillors that should they wish to collect a copy of an election’s nomination form, they will be available at the end of the meeting. Cllr. Fairweather kindly offered to give advice to anyone completing a form, as any errors would result in the application being rejected.
Dates for the next Environmental Management and Community Development committee meetings are different from those advertised on the Councillors Cards. Environmental Management is 14th March and Community Development is 21st March.
Nothing to report.
167/22: County and Borough Councillor Reports:
Borough Cllr. Warne reported:
TWBC Budget for the next financial year has now been agreed. Deficit is to be meet by reserves.
The latest quarters financials comparing Actual vs Budget is looking positive. Although energy costs have risen £800,000 over budget, interest has increased on financial assets, and staff shortages have resulted in savings on salaries. TWBC is faced with the same issues that are being experienced nationwide with attracting and retaining staff and are in the process of recruiting a dedicated Human Resources Officer.
Work will commence in the summer on converting the temporary TWBC Local Plan 2022-24 in to a 5-year plan. This will begin with a Councillor Convention that County and Parish Councillors will be invited to.
During the Communities and Economic Development Cabinet Advisory Board, the Community Safety Manager had presented a community safety partnership report. Items covered included:
- TWBC has the lowest levels of crime in Kent, although there are some challenging antisocial behaviour problems ongoing in Cranbrook.
- There is increased violence on the school buses which Inspector Jones of the local Community Safety Unit was not aware of.
- In the next financial year, a bid will be submitted to the Police Crime Commissioner to replace the CCTV in Cranbrook that was lost when the lamp post the cameras were attached to was hit by a vehicle.
- Concern had been raised about the lack of awareness of the Domestic Abuse drop-in service run by Look Ahead that takes place out of the parish office. The Clerk offered to work with Cllr. Warne to establish where Look Ahead are advertising the service as this isn’t entirely clear.
- Police Neighbourhood Policing model – New officers are currently undergoing training. Will focus on a Rural Task Force and Childrens Task Force.
Cllr. Fletcher asked if truancy was being discussed and also the shoplifting that happens from Alldays in the evening. Cllr Warne confirmed that truancy is on the radar, and she will raise any other issues as requested.
A meeting with KCC Officers had taken place regarding the closure of Cranbrook Childrens Centre. KCC are looking to find a cost-effective way of delivering the service. Their plans to relocate the services to the library make no sense at all. Future use of the current Childrens Centre building is limited due to its situation. The Officers were unaware of the plans for the new community centre in Cranbrook.
Tree felling and closed footpaths adjacent to the Brick Kiln development has raised some concerns with residents. There is a new Tree Officer at TWBC who is monitoring the situation.
The Wealden Consort concert that took place in St Dunstan’s in aid of Ukriane, Turkey and Syria raised £18,000 on the night. The proceeds from the sale of refreshments will go towards the running of the church.
Cllr. Fletcher advised that the Diocese of Canterbury have decided to sell the current Vicarage and will look for a new location in the parish. Some of the proceeds from the sale of the Vicarage will go towards running costs of the church. The Diocese have previously, but unsuccessfully, applied for planning permission for 3 houses on the current plot. Although the land where the current Vicarage stands was originally donated to the parish, it automatically transferred to the ownership of the Diocese.
Borough Cllr. Fairweather reported:
He had attended a presentation delivered by the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Community Safety Manager. The presentation summarised the priorities for the Community Safety Unit. Cllr. Fairweather highlighted that the report had not included fly tipping which is a significant blight in the rural areas. It’s hoped that this will now be written in.
There have been mixed reports regarding the Weald Leisure Centre. The new Manager has started who it is hoped will improve the service. Decarbonisation work at the Leisure Centre has started.
Borough Cllr. Dawlings sent a report which Cllr. Fletcher summarised, which included updates on the budget and the leisure centre.
Cllr. Fletcher advised that Cllr. Holden was not able to attend the meeting as he has injured one of his legs. Cllr. Pethurst referred to County Cllr. Holdens comments at last months meeting regarding his lack of knowledge of the various educational challenges locally. He asked the Chairman if he had supplied Cllr. Holden with the details that have been collated, to which the Chairman responded that he had.
Cllr. Bunyan expressed surprise at the difficulties the pre-school had experienced trying to find a new site. Cllr. Somers questioned why some of the buildings at the Snowfields Academy site are due to be demolished? Due to Leigh Academies lack of transparency, reasons are unknown.
168/22: Items for Information:
Cllr. Rampling had meet with members of Biddenden Parish Council who are concerned about the traffic on the A262. Biddenden P. C. are proposing formation of a pressure group to have the A262 reclassified as a B road from Biddenden through to the Forstal Farm Roundabout at the A21. This would require getting the parish council, local MPs on board. Biddenden P.C has Highway Improvement Plan (HIP) that includes the proposal. CSPC do not currently have HIP, however Cllr. Rampling offered to initiate the development of a HIP, including organising a public consultation. This was gratefully received.
Cllr. Bunyan reminded everyone that the Sissinghurst Flower Show will take place on the 25th March.
Cllr. Pethurst suggested that the council could show their support to the Big Help Out that is being organised for the Coronation weekend. This could be soup in the Vestry Hall for the volunteers to recognise their contribution.