MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE PARISH COUNCIL HELD ON
THURSDAY 8th OCTOBER 2020
The meeting was held remotely using Zoom software.
The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting.
PRESENT: Cllr. Fletcher (Chairman), Cllrs. Beck, Bunyan, Fairweather, Fermor, Gilbert, Hartley, Hall, Pethurst, Smith and Warne. Borough Councillor Dawlings
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. He notified those present that the meeting was being recorded as a Clerk’s aid.
In response to the statement above being read out, Cllr. Hartley reminded Members that he has offered an alternative site to the Doctors, should the new Medical Centre be discussed.
APOLOGIES: Cllrs. Hatcher, Meewezen and Waters.
80/20: Minutes of the Previous Meeting:
The Chairman, Cllr. Fletcher proposed that the Minutes of the Meeting held on the 10th September be adopted as a true record. This was seconded by Cllr. Fairweather and agreed.
81/20: Community Centre/Medical Centre:
Cllr. Gilbert advised Members that the Feasibility Study was complete and we were nearly at the point of engaging with Architects and looking for a Project Manager. Both Jonathan White and Cllr. Meewezen are working hard on the Outline Business Case. It was hoped a more detailed update will be available for the next meeting.
Reports from Chair and Committees:
82/20: Chairman’s Report:
The Chairman was sad to report it had been necessary to cancel the Apple Fair, especially after all the hard work from those involved. It had also been necessary to cancel Cranbrook In Bloom’s Presentation Evening.
He highlighted the 25-page response that TWBC had sent in reply to the government consultation on the White Paper “Changes to the Current Planning System”, which the Clerk had circulated with the TWBC newsletter.
He asked if the revised Cost Code Summary which highlighted the overspend had been useful to Members? Cllr. Bunyan felt it had helped her to understand the financial situation more. Cllr. Beck felt it there should be a clear definition between the underspend, as well as any overspend.
83/20: Policy & Resources:
Cllr. Beck referred to the minutes of the meeting held on 6th October and invited questions. As none were raised, he proposed adoption of the minutes, this was seconded by Cllr. Fairweather and agreed. The Clerk reminded the signatories that two of them would need to log in and authorise the payments now the minutes had been adopted.
84/20: Planning & Preservation Management:
Cllr. Smith referred to the meetings held on the 15th September and 6th October. He highlighted the Turnden application. The Committee had stayed with the previous recommendation of refusal however had noted there had been some improvements in the revised application.
In response to Cllr. Fletcher, Cllr. Smith confirmed that our comments on the Hawkhurst Golf Club application would be forwarded to the Hawkhurst Parish Clerk tomorrow. We had been invited to comment on it as it is a major application and we are a neighbouring parish.
85/20: Properties and Burial Grounds:
Cllr. Gilbert advised the next meeting was scheduled for 27th October and would include budget preparation for the forthcoming year. Revenue from the hire of the Vestry Hall was considerably less than had been anticipated when the budgets were calculated last year.
86/20: Environmental Management:
Cllr. Fairweather referred to the minutes of the meeting held on 22nd September and invited questions. Cllr. Fermor pointed out a typo and was assured this had already been corrected. She also commented on the paragraph regarding wilding areas being identified in the Town, an article about this and ‘bee lines’ would appear in the next edition of Parish Cake. Cllr. Fairweather proposed adoption of the minutes, this was seconded by Cllr. Fermor and agreed.
87/20: Neighbourhood Development Plan:
Cllr. Warne gave a precis of the meeting held 28thSeptember and referred to the Regulation 14 Draft that had been circulated. We had been advised to allow the consultation period to be extended from the usual six weeks to eight weeks. It would commence Friday 16th October and run until Friday 11th December.
A decision had been made not to go ahead with face to face consultation events as it would be too difficult to manage in the current circumstances.
There will be a poster and leaflet campaign which will direct people to engage with the NDP website to submit their comments. A short video has also been prepared by Richard Eastham on what the plan is and how to respond. Advertisements have been placed in the Wealden Ad, The Kent Messenger and the Courier.
A dedicated phone number will be available for people to request a hard copy for those that have no access to the internet at all. Statutory consultees, stakeholders and community groups will be notified that we are now inviting comments on the draft plan.
Cllr. Hall made several policy specific comments and was advised to submit these through the consultation process. Cllr Warne proposed adoption of the minutes highlighting that this would ratify the decision that the Draft Plan is ready to go out to public consultation. This was seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and agreed unanimously.
88/20: Reports from Delegates:
The Chairman read out the following reports from our representative Graham Holmes:
Transport Accessibility Group:
There is no news as to when the Group will restart.
Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group:
Meetings have been put on hold for the time being.
Cranbrook Tourism Group:
No meetings are planned for the immediate future. Since the Council’s budget set aside for promotion of tourism has not been spent in the current financial year, the Group are hoping this will be carried forward to the next financial year. Cllr. Dawlings added that he hoped that this year’s budget could be spent on the proposal Stuart Cleary has put forward to produce an information brochure/website highlighting the Town and advised Members to expect a request in the near future.
Cllr. Warne reported that a zoom meeting has been scheduled in the next couple of weeks and confirmed that Juliet Mellor is acting as Chairman.
Cllr. Bunyan advised that there has not been a meeting since January. She also reported on the sad news that CCAAC member Roy Walsh had died. As an ex architect he had been a valued member of the team. Peter Allen had been intending to retire however as not much is happening due to current circumstances, he is happy to continue for the time being.
89/20: Clerk’s Report:
The Clerk reported that we had received our Annual Governance and Accountability Return back from the external auditor PKF Littlejohn and there were no matters of concern raised. The Chairman congratulated the Clerks.
There was no correspondence which required reporting.
91/20: Reports from County and Borough Councillors:
a) Cllr. Dawlings reported on the Borough Council’s finances, explaining that the majority of its income comes from fees and charges, whereas most of the Council Tax income is passed on to other authorities such as KCC, KFRS, the Police and Parish Councils. During April and May this year losses amounting to around £1m, this has begun to recover and losses have now reduced to about half a million a month. Savings will need to be made next year, although the Borough is in an enviable position to have reserves that will help fund any shortfall. How quickly the economy recovers from the pandemic will be key. There is an expectation that although there is no autumn budget this year the government will produce guidance to help Local Authorities balance their budgets next year. After ten years of increasing cuts it is going to be difficult to manage.
There has been disappointment over the privately owned cinema site in the centre of Tunbridge Wells which is now up for sale again. The Borough Council cannot bid for it because as a local authority they are not permitted to pay more than its value for it.
b) Cllr. Fairweather reported that the Weald Leisure Centre would be taking telephone bookings from tomorrow, a relief to those residents who had been unable to use the online service.
After watching Sky News this evening, he raised concern that Tunbridge Wells Borough may be affected by the new three tier lockdown.
c) Cllr. Hall referred to the highway changes in the centre of Tunbridge Wells which were introduced to promote active travel, but with little or no consultation, it had been poorly received by businesses. As there is no further funding, it may be revised at a local level due to the discontent that exists amongst locals and businesses in particular.
d) Cllr Warne reported that she had been approached by John Wotton, the Chairman of CPRE, who following the Prime Minister’s statement to the UN last week on increasing protected areas from 26% to 30% of the nation’s land area by 2030, wanted to sound out our views on the possibility of expanding the High Weald AONB boundaries to cover the area that is categorised as the High Weald National Character Area, which would include Sissinghurst and Colliers Green.
After a brief discussion, Members initial thoughts were to support this, which Cllr. Warne would feed back to Mr. Wotton.
92/20: Items for Information:
a) Cllr. Fermor reminded everyone that the deadline for providing copy for Parish Cake was 25th October.
b) Cllr. Pethurst advised he had been approached by a parishioner raising the idea of closing part of the High Street to allow shops to increase their outside areas. He raised this with the Clerk who suggested it should be directed to Kent County Cllr. Holden.
c) Cllr. Hall advised of the existence of a government website which provides information on the amount of Covid cases in any particular area by postcode.
d) Cllr. Bunyan suggested an article to consider for Parish Cake, could be to ask for help in identifying land that may be suitable for a Woodland Burial Site in the Parish.
e) Cllr. Smith advised that as stated in the Policy and Resources minutes, he hoped to be in a position to provide a full update to members on the proposed new village hall for Sissinghurst at the November meeting.
The meeting was closed.
A parishioner raised concern at the level of congestion on the pavement outside one of the drinking establishments in Cranbrook. Another parishioner asked the Parish Council to put pressure on KCC to impose 20mph speed limits in The Street and Common Road. The Clerk asked for the request to be put in writing to her so she can include it as an agenda item on the next Environmental Management Committee meeting