MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE PARISH COUNCIL HELD IN THE COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CRANBROOK, ON THURSDAY 9th NOVEMBER 2023
Public Participation – there were no questions or comments from members of the public
PRESENT: Cllrs. Fletcher (Chair), Bunyan, Gilbert, Hatcher, Newman Pethurst, Selby, Somers, Stone and Swenson
County Cllr. Holden
85/23: APOLOGIES: Cllrs. Fairweather, Kings, Mills, Page and Tomlinson
Borough Cllr. Dawlings & Borough Cllr. Warne
86/23: 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.
87/23: To approve and sign as a correct record the minutes of the Full Council held 12th October 2023
The Chairman referred to the minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held on 12th October 2023 that had been circulated before the meeting by the Clerk. They were agreed for accuracy and proposed for acceptance by Cllr. Fletcher, seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and voted for unanimously by those present at that meeting and signed by the Chair.
88/23: Ball Field Football Pitches
Cllr. Fletcher explained that the agreed works to the Ball Field to reinstate pitches had been halted as the proposed location overlays a small section of the Public Right of Way. An email has been sent to the Public Rights of Way Officer for advice. Everyone agreed that the parish council should continue to seek a resolution.
89/23: Community/Medical Centre: Tunbridge Wells Borough Council have advised that the assets of community value application forms have been ratified and will now be considered at the next appropriate committee meeting. There are matched funding government grants available to repurpose buildings that have been acquired as assets of community value. The success of the application should be known by December/January.
At a recent meeting regarding education, Helen Grant MP had advised she would be meeting with the Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan MP, and she would impress on her the issues around education that Cranbrook is facing, and the need for the community to acquire the unused buildings at Snowfields Academy.
Recent discussions with a local architect have confirmed that it would be feasible to accommodate a 650-pupil school on Long Field. Parking facilities would be need to elsewhere.
Data on the number of new builds and the number of bedrooms in the surrounding parishes is being collated. This data will be important for future data driven discussions with KCC and the Education Department.
Although a new community centre and library are important, the most pressing issue is a medical centre. Today the land owned by the Parish Council in the Crane Valley was viewed by an architect. Hill developers are offering topographical expertise and also offering assistance with potential redesign of the old High Weald Academy 6th Form Centre.
Cllr. Pethurst reminded Members that Long Field and the Crane Valley are designated green spaces within the Neighbourhood Plan.
90/23: Chairman’s Report:
The Cake content has been collated and is due to be published by 1st December.
91/23: Approval of Committee Reports as detailed below:
a) Policy & Resources:
Cllr. Pethurst referred to the minutes of the meeting held on the 7th November 2023. He highlighted the investment options for earning increased interest. There is potential to earn an extra £1,100/month. He will work with the RFO to transfer funds as proposed.
Cllr. Pethurst also highlighted the updated complaints policy that the committee had agreed to put forward for adoption.
Cllr. Hatcher highlighted the communication regarding the requirement for the Secretary of State to redetermine the application for the second phase of Turnden. This document is on the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council planning portal.
Cllr. Fletcher highlighted that he had reported that the GPs are interested in investing in a new medical centre.
Cllr. Pethurst proposed the minutes of the meeting held on 7th November be adopted; this was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed.
b) Planning & Preservation:
Cllr. Bunyan presented the minutes of the meetings held 17th October & 7th November 2023.
The Committee had recommended refusal at both meetings for applications due to lack of non-selective secondary school and concern with utility companies being able cope with additional demand.
A planning application relating to the White Horse has been received and will be discussed at the next planning meeting on 21st November. The application is for retention of a public house and manager’s flat and conversion of upper floors/outbuilding to create five one-bedroom dwelling units.
- c) Properties and Burials:
Cllr. Gilbert referred to the minutes of the meeting held on October 24th and invited questions.
In response to a question regarding the order for new chairs for the Chambers, he confirmed that following approval of the payments list, the payment will now be transferred. He advised that he is looking into fitting replacement canvas seats and chair backs for the additional chairs in the Chambers.
Cllr. Bunyan enquired to an update from the resident who requested the Yew trees in Sissinghurst cemetery be reduced in height. The Clerk advised there is no update.
Cllr. Newman referred to the item relating to benches and enquired as to the proposed location for the new benches. It was confirmed that two are earmarked for the alongside footpaths in Sissinghurst, and four benches, including 2 picnic benches will be placed in the Ball Field near the play area.
Cllr. Gilbert proposed the minutes of the meeting held on 24th October be adopted; this was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed.
92/23: Delegate Reports:
a) Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group:
The Chairman read a statement provided by Graham Holmes:
The groups website was now launched and contains plenty of information about the history of the line, maps, signage and access, plus hop picking and interesting photographic gallery.
Go to: www.hoppickersline.org
b) Tourism Group:
Cllr. Hatcher advised that the Walk Through Time maps require a reprint. Cllr. Newman has offered to walk all the routes and check if any amendments are needed.
The ‘Visit Cranbrook & Sissinghurst’ website had been discussed. He is awaiting information from Mr. Cleary.
Cllr. Hatcher advised the group are meeting next week.
d) The Museum and History Society:
Cllr. Pethurst reported that the most recent talk on Aviation in Kent had been very interesting.
e) Age Concern:
Every Tuesday morning – coffee, keep fit and hearing aid battery replacements. Soup is served at lunchtime.
93/23: Clerks Report:
Nothing to report
Nothing to report
95/23: County and Borough Councillor Reports:
County & Borough Councillor Seán Holden
Cllr. Holden advised that he is communicating with the Deputy Cabinet Member for Education with a view to arrange a meeting before Christmas. Once the assets of community value application for the buildings on the Snowfields site has been approved, he will follow up with Paul Carter (Ex KCC Cabinet Member for Education), who is on Leigh Academy Board of Directors and has board oversight of Estates Services.
Due to budget challenges KCC are considering divesting the eight Windmills in the County that they are responsible for; this would include the Cranbrook Windmill.
Road closures continued to be an issue with roads being closed when there is no work being undertaken. There is currently one inspectorate who is responsible for checking the contractors. Recruitment for a second is ongoing.
A meeting had recently taken place with a group of residents from Biddenden, Sissinghurst and Goudhurst who are campaigning to have the A229 downgraded to a B road. Cllr. Holden believes this would be quite a challenge, and it would not stop the lorries using the road. In addition, if it became a B road it would be removed from the serious maintenance schedule, and it may also impact gritting.
Cllr. Holden advised that the application for a new salt bin on The Hill is being processed.
b) Borough Cllr. Dawlings:
The Chairman had received a report from Cllr. Dawlings which he summarised:
In advance of South East Water (SEW) attending Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) Overview and Scrutiny committee at the end of November, Cllr. Dawlings met with the Chief Executive, David Hinton. The topics that were discussed included:
- Demand for water – How is SEW building resilience into the supply to prevent water shortages/loss of supply?
- Temporary supplies – during the previous two water outages, bottled water stations had been In Tunbridge Wells and Rotherfield, respectively
- Communications – A means to escalate calls so that local elected representatives are able to give local feedback to SEW and in return SEW can advise what their engineers are working on needs establishing
At the recent Cranbrook Tourism meeting, Cllr. Dawlings took an action to write to Cranbrook & Sissinghurst Parish Council to discuss funding of the ‘Visit Cranbrook and Sissinghurst’ website. He is yet to complete the action.
Changes to TWBC ward boundaries will result in fewer Borough Councillors (from 48 to 30). Proposals will be presented to TWBC Full Council in February. It is possible that there could be a reduction to the numbers of Councillors on statutory committees, and a reduction in advisory committees.
96/23: Items for Information:
Cllr. Bunyan – The Sissinghurst Flower Show AGM is taking place on Monday 13th November in the Parish Room. There will be a talk given by Peter Mellor, plus refreshments. All welcome.
Cllr. Newman – whilst volunteering in Oxfam, a visitor to the shop had complimented the ‘delightful town’ and free parking
Cllr. Gilbert – both Cranbrook and Sissinghurst War Memorials have been cleaned. Three rose plants have been purchased for the flowerbed between the Howitzer and plough. The planting has kindly been carried out by Cranbrook in Bloom.
Cllr. Hatcher – The next Councillors Surgery will take place in the Parish Rooms, Sissinghurst on November the 28th at 9.15am. Volunteers required.
Cllr. Fletcher – there is a pew reserved for Councillors at both St Dunstan’s and Trinity Church Remembrance Day services.
Policy and Resources had agreed to sponsor a tree for the Christmas Tree Festival taking place in St Dunstan’s.
The service for the new Vicar, Revd Richard Kings, had taken place.