MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE PARISH COUNCIL HELD IN VESTRY HALL, CRANBROOK, ON THURSDAY 13th APRIL 2023
There were no members of the public present for the public participation.
PRESENT: Cllrs. Fletcher (Chair), Bunyan, Dyke, Gilbert, Hatcher, Kings, Pethurst, Rampling, Simpson, Somers, Stone, Tomlinson and Borough Cllr. Dawlings
169/22: APOLOGIES: Cllr. Fairweather, County & Borough Cllr. Holden and Borough Cllr. Warne
170/22: 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.
171/22: Minutes of the Previous Meeting to be confirmed:
The Chairman referred to the minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held on 9 March 2023 that had been circulated beforehand by the Clerk. They were agreed for accuracy and proposed for acceptance by Cllr. Fletcher, seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and voted for unanimously by those present at that meeting and signed by the Chair.
172/22: Grass Pitch Improvement Funding for Town & Parish Councils
Cllr. Tomlinson introduced the item. The Football Foundation offer funding to spend on grass pitch maintenance, generally this has been clubs and leagues that have been able to apply for this funding. Shortly this will be widening to allow town and parish councils to apply directly. The fund is tapered over a 6-year period and can be as high as £12,800 for 6 years, per pitch.
Cranbrook Juniors Football Club (CJFC) have around 300 members and currently use Rammel Field. Unfortunately, Rammel Field is earmarked for housing development and there are no other options available. CJFC would like to access the funds to able to improve the Ball Field to ensure CJFC can continue. The available area could potentially accommodate 1 full size pitch and 2 smaller pitches.
A survey would be carried out to ascertain what work would be required to bring the field up to playing standard, i.e., drainage improvements
Matters that would need addressing include:
- ongoing maintenance costs (which could be covered by other grants)
- consider positioning posts/signs reminding dog owners to clear up after their dogs
- use of the Big Side Pavilion or the School Hall
- hire fees
Cllr. Fletcher proposed that the Council support Cllr. Tomlinson who will be leading the grant application. This was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.
173/22: Replacement Streetlight Proposal:
Cllr. Fletcher referred to the report that had been circulated prior to the meeting. The Clerk also advised that since circulating the report a quote for c£6000 has been received for the upgrade of column 72 in the churchyard.
The Chairman summarised the report and invited discussion. Cllr. Pethurst was minded to replace all 18 concrete posts using General Funds as the costs to replace will continue to increase and the value of the reserves will decrease.
The Clerk was asked to report back with the following additional information:
- What would be the total cost to replace all 18 columns?
- Are the galvanised columns painted black?
- Are the contractors able to advise on the condition of the concrete columns?
The Chairman proposed that the quotes for replacement SL8 LED lanterns for columns R4 and 17 of £350 plus Vat/each be accepted. This was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.
174/22: To consider secondary double-glazing quote from Storm Windows for Vestry Hall
The Chairman referred to the quotation document that had been circulated by the Clerk prior to the meeting. Double glazing in combination with the thermal lined curtains will improve the energy efficiency of the hall and reduce electricity costs.
Storm Windows, who were recommended by the Conservation Architect due to their previous experience with listed buildings, were invited to quote. They have come up with a very elegant solution of 59 removable panes.
The Conservation Architect will advise if listed building consent is required. The lead time is 22 weeks. The quote from Storm windows included two options:
- 4mm toughened safety glass – £34,840 plus VAT
- 4mm toughened ‘K’ glass – £36,125 plus VAT
Costs would be meet by a combination of £8000 from the UK Shared Prosperity Funds (set aside for double glazing), and the remainder from General Funds.
The Chairman proposed the council accept the quote of £36,125 plus VAT for toughened ‘K’ glass, a proportion of the cost will be meet by the UKSPF, the remaining portion will be taken from the Council’s general cash fund. This was seconded by Cllr. Tomlinson and agreed.
Cllr. Kings recommended a review of General Funds if it is to be used for streetlight upgrades and the double glazing.
175/22: To consider Insurance renewal Quote of £11,217.66 from Hiscox Insurance Company
The Chairman explained that the Parish Council’s Financial Regulations stipulate that any costs of £10,000 or over must be agree at Full Council, hence the agenda items for Insurance, streetlights and double glazing.
Referring to the document that had been circulated before the meeting, the Clerk clarified the error in the covering letter from Gallagher Insurance Brokers and explained that the Parish Council is in the final year of a three-year binding agreement with Hiscox. The agreement results in a discounted price. This year’s quote has increased by just under £1000 compared to the previous year. It does not include cyber security, this is being dealt with separately.
The Chairman proposed accepting the insurance quote of £11,217.66, this was seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and agreed.
176/22: End of Election Term – what worked well, what could be done better?
The Chairman thanked the councillors standing down for their contribution to the Parish Council. He was interested to hear from councillors and asked for feedback to him on what they felt worked well, and what could be improved within the organisation.
177/22: Medical Centre Community Centre
See minutes from the Policy and Resources Committee held on 11th April ‘23
178/22: Chairman’s Report
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council elections team have confirmed that both Cranbrook and Sissinghurst ward are uncontested elections. There are two vacancies, one in each ward. Co-option can take place after the 9th May. Cranbrook and Sissinghurst are not the only wards that are uncontested, of the 15 wards due for an election on the 4th May, 11 are uncontested.
Cllr. Pethurst asked if an uncontested election impacted the Council’s Quality Status. The Clerk took an action to clarify.
Approval of Committee Reports as detailed below:
179/22: Policy & Resources:
Cllr. Pethurst referred to the minutes of the meeting held on the 11th April 2023. He invited questions, of which there where none. Cllr. Pethurst proposed the minutes be adopted, this was seconded by Cllr. Somers and agreed.
180/22: Planning & Preservation:
Cllr. Bunyan presented the minutes of the meetings held on 21st March 2023 and 4th April. She reported that following a request from a parishioner, the planning decisions are now being added to the minutes for a trial period of three months.
There were no questions.
The Chairman closed the meeting and invited Borough Councillor Dawlings to update on the Turnden Appeal.
Cllr. Dawlings informed that the Secretary of State for Housing and Planning has refused planning permission of 165 dwellings by Berkley Homes on the land adjacent to Turnden.
Cllr. Dawlings has spoken with the Head of Planning at TWBC who suggested that this decision was unlikely to be the end of the matter. He confirmed that the site is still a potential development site, it is just the current scheme that has been refused. Berkley Homes now have two options, appeal the Secretary of States decision, or amend the scheme.
He referred to the Borough Local Plan which he hoped would be resolved soon. It is still being considered following the inspector recommending that TWBC remove the Tudely Garden Village development. The Borough Council does not have a 5-year land supply which risks undesirable developments being approved. The lack of a Local Plan impacts plans for Paddock Wood as the Tudely development was to provide a new secondary school.
Cllr. Fletcher was concerned that the lack of a Local Plan would increase pressure for sites such as Jaegers and the land at the top of the Frythe. Any new developments need to be affordable and fit with the area.
The meeting was reopened
181/22: Community Development
Cllr. Hatcher invited Cllr. Dyke to review the New Year, New You Fair that she had organised.
Cllr. Dyke summarised her experience:
- Footfall was low and it was felt that this was due to the timing of the event. Cranbrook High Street is busier in the mornings, however as the hall was not available for booking in the morning, it was necessary to hold the event in the afternoon.
- More help was needed to help on the day, serving refreshments etc.
- Publicising was challenging. The posters were vandalised.
- The organisations reported positively on the event. Most got new members, or found the networking useful.
On behalf of everyone, Cllr. Fletcher thanked Cllr. Dyke for her work.
Cllr. Dyke advised that Linda Page is planning on organising a volunteering session for the Big Help Out on Monday 8th May. Likely to include a litter pick, weeding and painting of new planters. More details to follow.
Cllr. Hatcher referred to the minutes of the meeting held on 28th March 2023. There were no questions for Cllr. Hatcher, he proposed the minutes be adopted this was seconded by Cllr. Stone and agreed.
182/22: Environmental Management
Cllr. Fletcher reported that County Councillor Sean Holden had contacted him to advise that the repairs to the damage outside the White Horse are in progress. There is a 14-week lead time for a replacement column.
Cllr. Pethurst referred to the pothole repairs at the exit to Regal car park. He highlighted that the Committee discussed imposing a weight limit, advice to be sought.
Cllr. Pethurst proposed the minutes from the meeting on the 14th March be adopted. This was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed.
183/22: Delegate Reports:
- a) Age Concern: Simpson advised that they have asked the Parish Council to consider installing a stair lift. Cllr. Fletcher reported that quotes are being obtained. Things that will need considering are that the building is listed and that the lifts run on batteries charged via the mains. One of the companies approached estimated that the lift would need charging after 4 uses.
- b) Tourism Group: Hatcher reported that funding from KCC had been secured, however it would not be available until after the election due to purdah.
The Diocese Interview Committee rejected both applicants for the role of Vicar at St. Dunstan’s. The process will restart.
- c) Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group: Fletcher read out a statement from Graham Holmes: The group met on the 5th April.
As a result of Section 106 funding via the developments in Paddock Wood, it will now be possible to deliver a new interpretation panel close to the site. In addition, further funding has been secured to create a website to help promote the work of the Group as well as a history of the line. Work on this project is now well under way.
- d) Citizens Advice: Hatcher reported that the outreach sessions have seen increased numbers of clients, often with complex issues.
There are copies of leaflets and flyers available – please share.
- e) CCACC:
Cllr. Bunyan referred to the minutes of the previous meeting that had been circulated by the Clerk. The committee had discussed membership and terms of reference. It had also been noted that Providence Chapel is up for sale.
- f) Mens Shed:
The group had embraced the idea of making benches and have subsequently had lots of oak donated.
The ground is being cleared at the rugby club for construction of the shed. Cllr. Fletcher suggested that Belle Vue School has several older boys are looking for some volunteering jobs. If anyone has any other ideas of potential jobs, they should contact him or the Clerk.
184/22: Clerks Report:
Nothing to report
Nothing to report.
186/22: County and Borough Councillor Reports:
Borough Cllr. Dawlings reported:
Elections – a third of the Borough Council seats are up for election on May 4th, including Cllr. Warne for Benenden and Cranbrook, and Cllr. Fairweather for Sissinghurst and Frittenden.
Please remember that voter ID will be required at the Polling Station. There is no change to postal voting.
Weald Sports Centre – management issues continue with Fusion Leisure. There is great frustration from users from lack of staff and short opening hours.
Many sports centres have had to shut down due to increasing energy costs. Efficiency improvement work has started on the Weald Sports Centre using the grant secured by TWBC. UK Power Network have held up the process.
187/22: Items for Information
Cllr. Gilbert has made contact with Brick Kiln Farm project manager, they may be able to provide volunteering help. He raised concerns about the sub pond that will be maintained by the management company, and enquired about having a parish council representative on the committee.
Cllr. Bunyan suggested that some of the Snowfields could be included on the Community Asset Register. The Clerk agreed to share the application form with Councillors.
Cllr. Fletcher thanked all Councillors for their hard work. On behalf of all Councillors, Cllrs. Bunyan thanked the Chairman.