The meeting was held remotely using Zoom software.

PRESENT: Cllr. Fletcher (Chairman), Cllrs. Beck, Bunyan, Fairweather, Fermor, Gilbert, Hatcher, Kings, Pethurst, Smith, Warne and Waters. Borough Cllr. Dawlings, County and Borough Cllr. Holden.

APOLOGIES: Cllr. Hartley.

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. He reminded everyone present that the meeting was being recorded as a Clerk’s aid.

138/20: Minutes of the Previous Meeting and the Extraordinary Meeting to be confirmed:

The Chairman proposed that the Minutes of the Meeting held on the 14th January be adopted as a true record.  This was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.

Cllr. Fairweather referred to the item 125/20 of those minutes and enquired as to when the decision to change the title of the magazine had been made? The Chairman advised the new title of ‘The Cake’ is being trialled for three issues. He would be happy to receive any comments from Members on the change and if deemed necessary, can open the discussion as a future agenda item.

139/20: Community Centres/Medical Centre:

Cllr. Gilbert reported the board meeting which included representatives from TWBC and KCC had signed off on the Outline Business Case. Communication and engagement continue. Information is being brought together so the brief for the Technical Project Manager and Architect can be written. The article in the spring edition of The Cake continues to invite questions and seek views.

Cllr. Pethurst had seen a recent news story that suggested that there were fundamental changes being considered as to how the NHS is funded and how procurement processes may change and wondered if this would have any impact on this project and effect the way we approach funding it? Cllr. Gilbert advised that this is being discussed as the government are keen to link the NHS with social care. How this is going to affect CCG’s is not yet known. This has already been listed in the Risk Register as an issue, but it does not change the need identified for a Medical Centre.

140/20: Chairman’s Report:

The Chairman reported that Covid testing in the Vestry Hall has been well received, the first army group usually search for IEDs, and the second were bomb disposal. The KCC staff who have taken over are doing a great job. We have advertised as far and wide as possible but the numbers being tested are not huge. It reassures businesses and individuals who have to meet other people that they are not carriers at the time of the test.

The Museum has started a project to document COVID in Cranbrook, so if anyone has any memorabilia, photos or paperwork, please leave them in the office and he will pass them on to the Museum.

Vaccinations at Headcorn seems to be going well. Again, a group of happy volunteers working through sleet, snow and ice with smiles on their faces.

Brick Kiln Farm and Turnden both received planning permission at the end of January. TWBC Planning Committee gave permission through gritted teeth, as without a five year land supply, any appeal would have probably been allowed.  

With these two sites, and the sites in Hawkhurst, hopefully TWBC have their five year supply, so other sites can be refused and if necessary defended at appeal.

With lock down, footfall and general activity has been low, but there is still some criminal activity, one of the salt bins and its contents on the Frythe Estate has been stolen this week and there have been stories of dogs being snatched locally by a van with RSPCA livery

Report from Committees:

141/20: Policy & Resources:

Cllr. Beck referred to the minutes of the meeting held on the 9th February. He highlighted the item on which it was decided to hold an Annual Parish Meeting on Wednesday 28th April. He invited questions, as none were raised, he proposed adoption of the minutes. This was seconded by Cllr. Smith and agreed.

142/20: Planning & Preservation Management:

Cllr. Smith referred to the minutes of the meeting held on 19th January, highlighting the reasons cited for refusal of the Wilsley Farm application and confirming the site is not supported in the TWBC Local Plan or the Cranbrook and Sissinghurst NDP.

He then referred to the minutes of the meeting held on the 2nd February, again highlighting the reasons put forward for recommending refusal of the new application submitted for a dwelling on land at the rear of Southlands, in the High Street.

Cllr. Warne reported that the appeal lodged for land at Gate Farm in Hartley that went to a public enquiry in December, had been dismissed. The Inspector had ruled against the appeal on numerous grounds including the sensitivity of it’s setting within the AONB.

Cllr. Smith also referred to the changes coming forward which would allow for the conversion of farm building for up to five dwellings, without the need to apply for full planning permission.

143/20: Properties & Burial Grounds:

Cllr. Gilbert referred to the minutes of the meeting on the 2nd February. He highlighted the use of Vestry Hall as an asymptomatic testing centre. In response to Cllr. Bunyan he confirmed we were receiving revenue for the hire of the hall. He reported the cemeteries were all in good order and a new bench for Sissinghurst Cemetery would hopefully be ready for collection at the end of this month. The Chairman advised we were looking at quotes for boarding up the Tanyard Dental Surgery.

Cllr. Gilbert proposed adoption of the minutes, this was seconded by Cllr. Fermor and agreed.

144/20: Environmental Management:

Cllr. Fairweather advised that no recent meeting had taken place and there were no issues he was aware of that required reporting. Cllr. Kings reported the top part of the Regal Car Park was being resurfaced this week by the Co-Op, but raised concern regarding how long it would last as it was being laid in very cold conditions.

145/20: Neighbourhood Plan:

Cllr. Warne advised there had been no meeting recently. The working groups continue to look at the comments received during the consultation to agree a methodology on how to deal with them.  She has written an article for the parish magazine thanking everyone for responding to the consultation. The next meeting is scheduled for the 22nd February.

Reports from Delegates:

146/20: Age Concern:

Cllr. Warne advised she had been unable to attend the last meeting but believed some new trustees had been appointed. She was also aware the Committee were putting together their wish list of needs for the new Community Centre.

147/20: Transport Accessibility Group:

Graham Holmes expressed regret at having to announce the death of the group’s long standing Chairman, Tony Staines, due to the coronavirus.

148/20: CCAAC:

Cllr. Bunyan reported that CCAAC were holding their first zoom meeting on the 3rd March, so she would hopefully have some news to share at the next meeting.

149/20: Clerk’s Report:

There were no items to report.

150/20: Correspondence:

The Clerk read out a letter from Kent Police expressing their thanks for our support of the proposed roll out of an ANPR camera site in the area. It is hoped this will help them prevent and detect crime throughout the county. They will write again when installation of the equipment is complete and working. 

151/20: County & Borough Councillor Reports:

a) Cllr. Dawlings explained the position on vaccinations and why residents had been asked to travel to either Headcorn or Ticehurst to receive their jabs.

He gave an update on the Local Plan, explaining why the five year land supply figures continually fluctuate. The Plan has now been approved to move forward to Regulation 19, with the majority of the housing development being shifted to outside the AONB, to the north of the borough.

He advised the budget is being considered by Full Council towards the end of the month. The TWBC element of the rates are set to increase by 2%, the vast majority of Council Tax goes to KCC, the Police and KFRS. In the budget forecast they will continue to draw from reserves to buy some time whilst government decides if it will provide additional support to Councils. TWBC continues to distribute government funded grants to businesses affected by the latest lockdown.

b) Cllr. Fairweather thanked the Parish Council for nominating Community Heroes. In his role as a borough councillor, he had nominated residents in both Sissinghurst and Frittenden.

He was pleased to report the refuse service appears to have caught up following the disruption caused by the weather at the beginning of the week.

He reported that local elections for the Borough, County and Police & Crime Commissioner will go ahead as planned in May this year.

c) Cllr. Warne reported that the Local Plan Regulation 19 documents would be available online from early March, ready for the consultation which runs for eight weeks from 26th March.

Comments will be expected to focus on legal compliance and procedural matters and what is described as ‘soundness’ of the Plan, which refers to whether it has been positively prepared, is justified, effective and is consistent with national policy.  TWBC want people to comment via the website so are offering assistance on how to complete the forms and submit them online.

Officers will be talking directly to Parish Chairs, so community members can also submit their comments through the Parish Council. All representations will be reviewed, processed and passed to the Planning Inspectorate when the Plan is submitted.

d) Cllr. Holden gave his opinion of the revisions made to the Local Plan, which he now feels has improved so can move forward positively.

He spoke about the KCC element of council tax which will increase overall by five percent, three percent of which is due to adult social care. The government has dramatically reduced the grants and support given to KCC from £250m to £10m. Seventy percent of its revenue now comes from Council Tax.

Because KCC informed the government they could no longer fulfil their legal obligation to unaccompanied asylum seeker children, more support has been offered. KCC are responsible for the cost of their care until they are 25 years old.

He referred to the government consultation on raising the weight of lorries on our roads from 44 to 48 tons. His mission is to ‘get lorries out of our lives’. The government has agreed to give us powers to enforce moving traffic offences, which means we can go ahead with a trial, to confine HGVs to strategic routes unless they are working locally.

He reported he has awarded a Members Grant of £2,300 to Cranbrook in Bloom to improve the unsightly railings by St. David Bridge with hanging baskets and has also awarded £2,000 to Wellbeing in the Weald to support the mental health of residents.

The Chairman and Cllrs. Pethurst and Fermor collectively thanked Cllr. Holden for the grant he awarded us. which allowed for the purchase of the trees for the new spinney on the Ball Field.

152/20: Items for Information:

Cllr. Fermor confirmed the next edition of The Cake will be delivered the first week of March.

Cllr. Kings referred to the consultation by Forestry England to address the parking issues in Park Lane, the solution to which it appears has been agreed, but in his opinion will be limiting. Cllr. Holden commented that he has had further discussion with the Highways department to see if further improvements can be made to the selected option.

The meeting was closed

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