PRESENT: Cllr. Fletcher (Chairman), Cllrs. Bunyan, Fairweather, Fermor, Gilbert, Hartley, Kings, Pethurst, Smith and Warne.

APOLOGIES: Cllrs. Beck, Hatcher and Waters.

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.

Cllr. Hartley referred to his dispensation request which was due for discussion later in the meeting.

The Chairman advised that he was amending the order of the agenda items to allow County and Borough Cllr. Holden to give his report first as he had another engagement to attend.

23/21: Report from County and Borough Cllr. Holden:

Cllr. Holden reported that Kent County Council were taking the Government to court over the number of unaccompanied children seeking asylum that they are being expected to accommodate. Of the 242 requiring accommodation only 52 have been placed elsewhere despite KCC pressing for a voluntary scheme to be actioned. A “letter before action”, has been sent to the Home Secretary requesting she use her power to introduce a mandatory scheme. KCC currently have twice as many as is deemed safe in their care and just nine months ago it was reported they could not fulfil their legal obligation as there was insufficient capacity to accept anymore. This has been an ongoing issue for many years with Kent taxpayers footing the bill.

He also advised that he was working with the new cabinet member for transport, David Brazier, to implement a London Lorry Scheme in Kent. He is hoping that the existing clamping scheme to reduce illegal parking in laybys, currently in force in the east of the County, will be extended to cover all of Kent. They are also looking at how official lorry parking facilities could be improved.

It has been reported to him that many of the plants in the hanging baskets and troughs that were planted by Cranbrook in Bloom this year have died. It has been suggested that they may have been affected by KCC spraying weedkiller on the pavements in the area. He has asked for an enquiry to be launched to assist in identifying the cause. The hanging baskets on St David’s Bridge obtained with a members grant he awarded, have now been erected.

An extension to the 20mph limit in the High Street is being investigated.

He congratulated Cllr. Fermor on the latest edition of The Cake.

24/21: Minutes of the Previous Meeting to be confirmed:

The Chairman proposed that the Minutes of the Meeting held on the 13th May be adopted as a true record.  This was seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and agreed.

25/21: Lifting of Dispensation – request from Cllr. Hartley.

Cllr. Hartley asked members to consider quashing his dispensation, as his circumstances have changed and he has withdrawn the offer he made to the GPs to build the Medical Centre on land owned by his family. For this reason, he would like to be released from the constraints of the dispensation.

The Clerk had sought advice from the Monitoring Officer on the options available to the Council. This had been circulated to all members with the agenda and a copy of the original dispensation granted at Full Council in December 2020.

In response to the Chairman, Cllr. Hartley confirmed his family still own the land adjacent to the Community Centre site.

Two members stated that Cllr. Hartley’s expertise as an architect would be advantageous and he should be able to access all the information available to other members from this point on. Cllr. Gilbert pointed out that any architectural input would not be necessary until a contract with the GPs is signed, at which stage Cllr. Hartley’s expertise would most definitely be sought.  Cllr. Smith suggested that Cllr. Hartley could declare an undertaking not to submit another rival bid, which is a concern of some members. Cllr. Hartley did not feel this should be necessary and reiterated his concerns regarding the viability of the project as it currently stands.  

Members discussed all the options they had been advised were available to them. Cllr. Bunyan proposed the current dispensation should remain until a contract is entered into. This was seconded by Cllr. Fermor. Six members voted in favour, two voted against, one member abstained, therefore the motion was carried.

Cllr. Pethurst voiced concern that minutes of board and management meetings were not being circulated to members and reports on the status of the project were not forthcoming. Cllr. Gilbert advised that he gives a verbal update at each Full Council meeting, however as it currently stands no meetings have been held and there is nothing further to report. This situation is likely to remain until such time as an agreement with the GPs is reached.

26/21: Community Centres/Medical Centre:

There was nothing further to report.

Reports from Chair and Committees:

27/21: Policy & Resources:

The draft payment list for June had been circulated to all Members, a copy of which is filed with these minutes. It was proposed by Cllr. Fletcher, seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed to approve the payments as presented.

These included:

Policy and Resources                          £13,512.28

Properties & Burial Grounds              £  1,568.23

Environmental Management               £  1,014.64

   Total           £16,095.15

Cllr. Fletcher gave a verbal report of the meeting held immediately before this Full Council meeting. This included confirmation that the internal finance check had been completed and everything was in order. The transfer of monies between accounts were recorded along with the authorisation of payments made after the May meetings. The Internal Audit Report had been discussed along with the actions required to address any issues raised.

The Committee approved the purchase of Microsoft Publisher for one computer at a cost of £125. It also approved expenditure of £410 for the Deputy Clerk’s CiLCA registration and any additional costs associated with obtaining the qualification.

Wellbeing in the Weald had requested office space for admin purposes, to enable them to meet people that may benefit from their activities. They had also requested use of the Vestry Hall on a weekly basis free of charge. Members were supportive of the organisation and suggested that they be offered the Council Chamber for a few hours a week free of charge for their administrator on a trail basis for three months after which suitability and costs would be reviewed. Unfortunately, Members felt unable to offer the Vestry Hall free of charge as current rates have not been increased and operating costs of the hall continue to rise.

Two grant requests were discussed, one of which was deferred, until Cllr. Hatcher had the opportunity to liaise between the organisations requesting financial assistance for their events as it appears that many of the costs are overlapping. One hundred pounds was awarded to the West Kent Neighbourhood Watch Association with the proviso that more volunteers are sought through an article in The Cake to ensure the organisation has sufficient resources to be of benefit to parishioners.

Minutes of the meeting will be circulated as soon as possible, for adoption at the Full Council meeting in July.

28/21: Planning & Preservation:

Cllr. Smith reported on the meeting held 1st June. The Committee had recommended refusal of the application for the erection of two dwellings on the car park of the White Horse Public House as it would impact the viability of the business.

The application to replace floodlights at Sissinghurst Tennis Club was recommended for approval.

Cllr. Bunyan was elected as Vice Chairman of the Committee.

29/21: Properties & Burial Grounds:

Cllr. Gilbert advised no meeting had been held recently and there were no issues to report.

30/21: Environmental Management:

Cllr. Fairweather advised no meeting had been held recently and there were no issues to report.

31/21: Neighbourhood Development Plan:

Cllr. Warne referred to the meeting held on 18th May when the group discussed their response to the consultation on the Draft Local Plan, which closed on Friday 4th June.

The group are still progressing with the comments received to our consultation last autumn. The last few chapters have been sent to the consultant to prepare for the next round of consultation.

Cllr. Warne advised she had also been asked to support the CPRE case at the Turnden Public Enquiry in September by preparing and submitting a witness statement, in her role as Chair of the NDP Steering Group, which she will read out at the enquiry.

Cllr. Warne proposed adoption of the minutes of the meeting held on the 18th May, this was seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and agreed.

32/21: Economic & Community:

In the absence of Cllr. Hatcher, The Chairman advised the first meeting of this newly revived Committee was scheduled for Tuesday 22nd June at 5.30pm. The Clerk confirmed the agenda would be circulated to committee members next week.  

33/21: Clerk’s Report:

The Clerk reported that the Annual Governance & Accountability Return for 2020-2021 had now been submitted to the external auditor. The Notice of Public Rights which advises any person interested that they have a right to inspect our accounting records has been posted online and on the noticeboard.

She also congratulated her colleague, Mrs Bezuidenhout on successfully passing her ICLA course.

34/21: Correspondence:

There was no correspondence that required reporting.

35/21: Borough Councillor Reports:

a)  Cllr. Warne advised she had attended the Planning Policy Working Group meeting. She reported that TWBC were unable to calculate the five year land supply until the end of July. They are hoping for a bigger buffer to help robustly defend and strengthen defences.

The Chairman congratulated Cllr. Fairweather on being chosen to sit on the cabinet as the Portfolio Holder for Communities and Wellbeing.

b) Cllr. Fairweather reported he had attended one full council meeting which is traditionally known as the Mayor Making Ceremony. No party has overall control at TWBC, there are 24 members on one side and 24 members representing different parties on the other side. In the event of a tied vote, the casting vote goes to the Mayor. The Council has some difficult decisions to make, so there will be interesting times ahead. The new Leader of the Council is Cllr. Tom Dawlings.

36/21: Items for Information:

The Chairman read out the following delegates reports:

a) Transport Accessibility Group – Graham Holmes

The Government, having announced a proposed National Bus Strategy have invited comments from Councils and interested groups towards a Bus Services Improvement Plan. Kent County Council will be required to submit such a Bus Services Improvement Plan. This represents a unique opportunity to rural communities such as Cranbrook and Sissinghurst.

b) Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group– Graham Holmes

Due to restrictions imposed by Covid-19 and the associated relative lack of activity, the HPLHG have taken the decision to postpone, for at least one year, the 3rd Annual General Meeting which was due to have been held by the 10th June 2021.

It was agreed that until such time as the AGM is held, the existing officers will remain in post.

c) Tourism Group

No report was available.

d) The Chairman reported on the sad loss of David Kirby MBE who had died recently. David was Chairman of Cranbrook Parish Council from May 1974 – May 1983, he was also a borough councillor between 1974-1994 and was Mayor during 1987-88.  He was also a former Leader of the Council and Chairman of the Housing Committee as well as Chairman of the Governors of Angley School for many years.

e) Cllr. Fairweather advised that due to his new commitment at TWBC he would have to stand down as Chairman of Environmental Management. Cllr. Fletcher advised a new Chairman will be elected at the next Environmental Management Committee meeting at the end of the month.

f) Cllr. Pethurst advised that the Ball Field had been entered in the Parks category of South East in Bloom. Judging will take place on Tuesday 22nd June.

The meeting was closed.

A member of the public thought the play equipment in the Jubilee Field was looking shabby and wanted to know what could be done about it?

Cllr. Fairweather advised we were still awaiting an allocation of grant monies from the Countryside development in Sissinghurst. Once received this would be used to upgrade the current equipment.

A question was also raised regarding a potential pedestrian crossing at the lower part of the High Street/ Stone Street.

The Chairman advised this had previously been discounted by KCC Highways because of the differing pavement heights.  We would pass on the request to Cllr. Holden to see if it could be looked at again when the Highways Team are on site, considering the speed limit further up the High Street.

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