PRESENT: Cllr. Kings (in the Chair), Cllrs. Dyke, Fairweather, Fermor, Fletcher (in part), Gilbert, Pethurst and Smith.

Declaration of Interests, Dispensations and Predetermination:

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.

Cllr. Gilbert declared an interest on the item listed as ‘complaint received’ under allotments, in that he was the complainant. As allotment tenants, Cllrs. Fletcher, Gilbert and Pethurst declared a pecuniary interest on the item listed as ‘Review of fees’ and would not take part in any discussion or voting on the item.

18/21:  Play Equipment:

The Clerk updated Members that the new equipment for the Ball Field was scheduled for installation in January 2022. A pre installation site visit had been completed. The equipment ordered for the Jubilee Field, had a slightly longer lead time and no installation date has been provided yet.

The Parish Warden had raised concern that the safety tiles under the swings at the Ball Field and the Jubilee Field needed constant repositioning and would not last many more years. Members discussed their preference for wetpour as a safety surface, however this would require removal and reinstallation of existing equipment. It was agreed to keep this under constant review and to look at all possible options. 

19/21:  Allotments:

a) Rules and Regulations:

The Deputy Clerk has now started her CiLCA training and has been reviewing all of our rules and regulations, as part of her studies. She would prepare a draft revision of the current rules and regulations, to present to Members at the next meeting.

b) Complaint received:

The Chairman advised that a formal complaint had been received from Cllr. Gilbert, following an incident on the allotments. The letter of complaint was tabled for Members to read.  It was explained that Belle Vue School had approached the Council for suggestions as to how they could help the community and further the children’s development and education. It had been agreed that assisting allotment tenants that were struggling to keep their plots in a manageable condition, would be an excellent way of doing this. Two people working on another allotment who were not tenants themselves but helping a tenant manage his plot, took exception to this help being offered. Their exception was presented in an aggressive manner to the children, the teacher and the allotment holder. One of them later came into the parish office and remonstrated with the Deputy Clerk, whilst the other contacted an administrator at the school, complaining vociferously that the children were being used as slave labour. The school have been very disturbed by this incident and asked that further action be taken, to ensure this does not happen again. A letter had been drafted to the tenant, advising him that any repetition of such behaviour, may result in his tenancy being terminated. This was circulated for Members to consider.

With a couple of minor amendments agreed, it was proposed by Cllr. Kings, seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed, the letter should be sent. 

c) Review of fees:

The Clerk explained that the fees are reviewed each year as part of the budget preparation and have been increased, historically, every three years. The Committee were advised of the projected costs of maintaining the allotments which includes some tree work, repairs to the water troughs and general grounds maintenance. With this in mind, Cllr. Kings proposed the rent should be increased to £30 per annum for a plot of 5 rods, with effect from 1st October 2022. Other plots of differing sizes would be increased proportionally. This was seconded by Cllr. Fermor and agreed.

20/21:  Highways Issues:

Cllr. Kings advised he had been speaking to residents at Hartley and KCC Highways regarding the recent introduction of additional road studs and the associated noise generated from larger vehicles driving over them. KCC are looking at all the options available to remedy the situation.

21/21: Car Parks:

Cllr. Fletcher advised that we had received a business rate demand of £950 per annum for the spaces in Carriers Road. This was disappointing as TWBC had not paid any business rates previously, however, the creation of the lease assigning the area to us to manage, had prompted the Valuation Office to re-assess if rates were applicable. Our only option now is to submit an appeal to the Valuation Office which the Clerk is in the process of doing. She warned that a challenge can take up to eighteen months for a response to be received.

Cllr. Dyke advised that one of the EV charge points in Jockey Lane was not working again, and has been reported. She advised that frequently all the points are occupied when she wants to charge her vehicle, which means she has to return later in the day to use the facilities. This being the case she believes more points are necessary and has made an initial enquiry to KCC for funding that may be available to Parish Councils to install EV points. She will report her findings, at the next meeting.

22/21:  Litter Picks and Litter Bins:

It was reported that Cranbrook Primary School had undertaken a litter pick recently. The Clerk advised that Cranbrook School intended to restart their regular litter picks in the new year and would be borrowing the parish equipment. A date for the Sissinghurst litter pick would be discussed at the next meeting.

23/21: Streetlighting:

There were no issues to report.

24/21: Any Other Environmental Management Issues:

a) Steps in the Crane Valley:

A request had been received from a parishioner asking the Committee to consider widening the steps from the Crane Valley up to the Frythe Estate. Members discussed the request in full, however as this was part of a short cut and not the recommended route across the valley, it was agreed that parishioners should be encouraged to use the tarmac path, albeit a slighter longer route, especially in the winter months when the ground is muddy and softer underfoot.

b) Ball Field – South East in Bloom entry 2022:

Cllr. Pethurst asked Members to consider whether we should enter the South & South East in Bloom Competition in 2022. If we were to enter, what should we plan to do to maintain this year’s success of being awarded a gold. Members had been given a copy of the judging results. Feedback received suggested there could be some improvements made to the path adjacent to the Churchyard wall and the area used for parking by the Bowls Club. The Clerk advised that new fold down bollards had already been purchased for the approach to the Bowls Club parking, which are awaiting installation. Regarding the footpath, which is a KCC Public Right of Way, any improvements to it will need to be considered and financed by KCC.  Cllr. Pethurst proposed the Parish Council enter the competition in 2022, this was seconded by Cllr. Fermor and agreed.

c) Ball Field – Responsibility for the Spinney.

Cllr. Pethurst advised there had been some confusion over who was responsible for maintaining the spinney. Cranbrook in Bloom had planted trees that the Parish Council had purchased through a KCC Members Grant. They also wanted to add some wildflowers to the area. This would require maintenance on top of the current grounds contract, which would incur additional costs. It was agreed that Cranbrook in Bloom would be asked to provide a proposed schedule of maintenance for the wildflower area to allow for costings to be obtained so Members can consider the proposal.

 25/21: Five Year Plan & Budget:

A budget working sheet and updated Five Year Plan had been circulated to Members prior to the meeting. Cllr. Kings highlighted the £5,000 proposed to replenish the earmarked funds for play equipment, which currently stands at zero, following the recent acquisition of play equipment for the Ball Field. The Clerk explained that any allocated funds from cost codes 427-441, that remain unspent at the end of the financial year would automatically move to earmarked funds for the car parks. Cllr. Kings proposed the budget and Five Year Plan be accepted as presented, this was seconded by Cllr. Smith and agreed. Copies will be filed with the minutes.

26/21: Items for Information:

Cllr. Fermor advised that following a recent CCAAC meeting, Mark Stephenson – Conservation Architect at TWBC, had agreed to write to the owners of the land adjacent to the Pound to request they tidy the area and remove any rubbish.

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