The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting.

PRESENT: Cllr. Hatcher (Chair), Cllrs. Fletcher (in part), Gilbert, Kings, Pethurst and Waters

Declaration of Interests, Dispensations, Predetermination or Lobbying:
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.

1/21: Election of Vice Chairman:
Cllr. Wendy Waters – Proposed by Cllr. Hatcher, seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed.

2/21: Dates and times of future meetings:
It was agreed that clerked meetings would take place quarterly, on a Tuesday at 5.30pm.

Cllr. Hatcher suggested interim informal Zoom meetings take place in the remaining months when there isn’t a clerked meeting. This was agreed by all. The clerk advised that no expenditure could be approved at the informal meetings. Cllr Hatcher explained that his intention was to take any approvals of expenditure to Full Council. Cllr. Hatcher further explained that his thought was for the interim Zoom meetings to progress individual projects and meet with other people outside of the committee. Minutes would not be required; however, notes could be distributed to committee members.

3/21: Ideas for supporting the local economy and the community for discussion:
Cllr. Hatcher set the scene for his vision of the committee; bearing in mind that it is a small committee, it cannot take on lots of responsibilities itself, but can generate ideas and enable other people within the community to achieve their goals.

Cllr. Hatcher shared his own thoughts on one of the potential projects/areas that the committee could facilitate. The first being improving the Parish Council website and having a Facebook presence. The Clerk recommended the Economic & Community (E&C) Committee submit a report to Policy & Resources Committee for consideration, as this is where the budget for the website sits. She also confirmed that we are not currently tied into a contract with the current website hosting company. Cllrs. Hatcher & Pethurst agreed to bring suggestions of website changes to the next meeting.

Cllr. Hatcher welcomed thoughts from around the room on what others thought the committee could be responsible for.

Cllr. Fletcher explained that he personally felt the revival of the committee was important. There is lots going on in Cranbrook, but quite often individual groups are not aware of what other groups are doing. Volunteers are often working in separate bubbles. The E&C Committee could increase the cohesion with in the community. Several organisations had applied for grants to help purchase event insurance. Rather than awarding grants to each individual organisation for insurance, the groups could come together and buy one insurance for multiple events.

Cllr. Hatcher suggested the committee consider producing an information pack to assist new groups wishing to organise community events – containing, for example, the different venues available to hire, how to apply to close the High Street. Cllr. Waters felt this was a good idea and was happy to share the knowledge she had acquired whilst organising events in the town, i.e., the requirement to notify Police, Fire Brigade and TWBC events department. Cllr. King suggested that the information could be available on the website, rather than a physical pack.

Cllr. Gilbert reported the Cranbrook Business Association was now virtually defunct and posed the question – should E&C Committee consider absorbing this function? Following discussions, it was felt that there was a need to have good links with the business community. Cllr Gilbert will put some thought in to an agenda item relating to this for the next meeting.

Discussions moved on to the subject of volunteers. The committee could consider a role of being a link between volunteers and groups.

Cllr. Pethurst raised the suggestion of better promotion of the Ball Field. It is tucked away from the centre of the town and is an under used resource. It has been used in the past for football, however the lack of facilities was a barrier. The Clerk informed there are bye laws governing the Ball Field. This includes requirement to ask the Parish Council permission to use the field for events, sport etc.

Cllr. Pethurst offered to investigate and report back to the committee on the possibility of making Cranbrook a dementia friendly town. The committee could facilitate groups such as Age Concern and Wellbeing in the Weald, and involve the shops too. In addition, the Ball Field could include a dementia trail. It was noted the Cllr. Warne is the rep for Age Concern.

The topic of tourism was raised next. How can Cranbrook take advantage of having the National Trust properties nearby? How can Cranbrook become a destination for coach outings? Reasons given against in the past include lack of coach parking facilities, lack of public toilets and Sunday opening hours of the shops. Cllr. Gilbert offered to get advice from Carol Gower who is involved in organising coach trips from Cranbrook.

Cllr. Hatcher referred to an email that had recently circulated among Councillors regarding Credit Unions. There is concern among some Councillors that people in the Parish are borrowing money from pay day loan providers/loan sharks. The KCC supported organisation Kent Savers could be promoted as an alternative. As well as providing loans, Kent Savers encourages saving. They have a presence in the Tenterden Community Hub. In the past, the suggestion of an article in The Cake covering Kent Savers had received a significant amount of criticism among councillors.

Cllr. Hatcher raised the point that previously the Economic & Community Committee had been responsible for grant application decisions. The Clerk expressed her thoughts that it works well with grants being handled by Policy & Resources as that committee meets monthly, whereas Economic and Community will only meet quarterly. It was agreed that grants would remain the remit of the Policy and Resources Committee.

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