PRESENT: Cllr. Fletcher (Chairman), Cllrs. Beck, Bunyan, Dyke, Fairweather, Fermor, Gilbert, Hatcher, Kings, Pethurst, Rampling and Waters. Borough and County Cllr. Holden.
APOLOGIES: Cllr. Hartley. Borough Cllrs. Dawlings and Warne.
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.
146/21: Minutes of the Previous Meeting to be confirmed:
The Chairman proposed the Minutes of the Meeting held on the 13th January be adopted as a true record, this was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.
147/21: High Weald Academy Closure:
The Chairman reported he had become very involved in trying to understand how this has happened and what could be done about it. With the closure there will be an area of 340sqmiles with no non-selective secondary education. Research in the Department of Education minutes, has shown that the decision has only been recorded as one line justifying the Leigh Academy Trust taking over the Brook Learning Trust as a ‘pragmatic’ decision.
He fully understands the requirement to provide for Special Educational Needs, however we already have the excellent Belle Vue School in the Town and Kent County Council own the Swattenden Centre and the Long Field land, so provision for the 100 pupils that will attend for SEN could be catered for at either of those locations, leaving the 1050 pupil facility of the HWA as a non-selective secondary school. KCC are predicting there will be a demand for 6000 new secondary school places across the region by 2026. He encouraged everyone to lodge their concerns on a new email address provided for the purpose: email@example.com
The Chairman has a meeting scheduled with Nick Abrahams – the Area Education Officer for Kent County Council to discuss numbers. Whether anything can be done, he doesn’t know, but he feels very strongly that we have to try.
Cllr. Kings raised concern at the volume of people that may move out of Cranbrook because of a lack of non-selective secondary education.
148/21: Play Equipment:
The Chairman reported some disappointment had been expressed by parents and carers of young children, regarding the selection of the new equipment that had been installed on the Ball Field. He was aware that some of the Members of Public attending this evening were interested in voicing their concerns, therefore he closed the meeting and invited them to speak.
Several members of the public spoke of their disappointment at the choice the Council had made in selecting the new equipment and the need for younger children to be supervised when using it. It was suggested that more consultation with the community should be undertaken prior to selecting any play equipment in the future.
The Chairman pointed out that the playground is not just for toddlers and the Parish Council had purchased equipment suitable for older children.
The meeting was reopened.
Members noted the comments made and discussed how more consultation could be undertaken in the future. In response to Cllr. Hatcher, the Chairman confirmed that if the community wanted to raise funds for additional equipment, the Council would happily accept the contribution.
Cllr. Fairweather referred to the equipment already ordered for the Jubilee Field in Sissinghurst, explaining briefly, the process of obtaining S106 monies for playground equipment. He conceded that from the comments made this evening, on this occasion it appears we had not fulfilled the needs of a section of the community.
149/21: Community Centres/Medical Centre:
Cllr. Gilbert reported that Jonathan White had confirmed the specification for the Medical Centre had been received from the GP’s and now just needs to be signed off by the relevant organisations involved. Revised costings could now be undertaken.
150/21: Election of Planning & Preservation Committee Chairman:
Cllr. Fletcher proposed Cllr. Bunyan be elected as the Chairman of Planning & Preservation; this was seconded by Cllr. Fermor and agreed. The Vice Chairman would be elected at the Committee’s next meeting on Tuesday.
151/21: Queen’s Jubilee Street Party:
Cllr. Waters reported that along with her sister, they had offered to organise a street party in Cranbrook on Sunday 5th June for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. They are applying for a road closure in the High Street and are planning to site the tables and chairs along the road. They are trying to get a children’s entertainer and have already secured a popcorn and candy floss stall and a vintage ice cream cart. There will be food stalls, however residents can bring their own picnic if they prefer. Legally they will need to provide first aid and ambulance services and are currently in discussion with St. Johns Ambulance Service. Local band Box of Frogs have been booked. Insurance has been obtained for 5 separate events throughout the year.
Cllr. Fairweather reported Sissinghurst were also planning an event called the Queen’s Jubilee Village Picnic which would be held on the Jubilee Field on Saturday 4th June between 1pm-4pm. Traditional games will be played and there is a competition to design and wear your own crown.
It was expected the organisers of both events would approach the Policy & Resources Committee next month for some help in funding their events.
152/21: Chairman’s Report:
The Chairman advised that the majority of what he had to report had already been covered under previous items.
He did want to raise the prospect of purchasing a field shelter for the Crane Valley. He hoped it would alleviate the need for young people to congregate in the public toilets, that are due for reopening, as soon as the refurbishment had been completed. He had circulated the specification and costings from several options, to all members prior to the meeting. He proposed that we to accept the quote from ‘Muddy Patches’ based in Abbotsbury at £1,800 which includes delivery. This was seconded by Cllr Beck and agreed.
Cllr. Holden has a fund for Covid Recovery, the Chairman would approach him for a contribution to the shelter on the grounds of young people’s wellbeing.
Reports from Committees:
153/21: Policy & Resources:
Cllr. Beck referred to the minutes of the meeting held on 8th February and invited questions. As none were raised, he proposed adoption of the minutes, this was by Cllr. Hatcher and agreed.
154/21: Planning & Preservation:
Cllr Bunyan referred to the minutes of the meeting held 1st February and invited questions; none were raised.
Cllr. Bunyan reported that she and the Chairman had attended a meeting with Fernham Homes to explain the reasoning behind the Parish Council’s recommendation to refuse the St. George’s Institute application. She has since written to Fernham Homes confirming the content of the discussion, which has been added to the agenda for the next meeting, for members benefit and information.
155/21: Properties & Burial Grounds:
Cllr. Gilbert referred to the minutes of the meeting held on the 25th January and invited questions. As none were raised, he proposed adoption of the minutes, this was seconded by Cllr. Rampling and agreed.
Cllr. Fairweather wanted to express his thanks to the Parish Warden for planting the red oak in the Cemetery, in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
156/21: Economic & Community:
Cllr. Hatcher advised the next meeting was scheduled for 29th March.
157/21: Environmental Management:
Cllr. Kings advised the next meeting was scheduled for 22nd March.
158/21: Neighbourhood Development Plan:
Cllr. Pethurst explained that although Nancy Warne had stood down as a parish councillor, the Terms of Reference for the Steering Group, still allowed her to remain as Chairman.
As Vice Chairman, he would take over the day to day running of the group until such time Mrs Warne is able to return.
The Plan is currently with the NDP consultant, for his team to prepare the document for submission. Cllr. Pethurst hopes to bring the final version to Full Council for approval next month. He proposed adoption of the minutes of the meeting held on the 24th January. This was seconded by Cllr. Hatcher and agreed.
159/21: Delegate Reports:
a) Representative for Age Concern:
Cllr. Hatcher volunteered to be our representative on the Committee following Cllr. Warne’s resignation. Cllr. Pethurst agreed to act as deputy and attend meetings if Cllr. Hatcher could not attend for any reason.
b) Tourism Group:
The Chairman advised the next meeting is scheduled for 22nd February.
c) Hop Picker’s Line Heritage Group:
The next meeting has been rearranged for the 15th February. The main topic was to be a presentation from a Horsmonden delegate on the subject of launching a Facebook page for the Group. Due to the resignation of the delegate, this matter has now been deferred until a later date and the Group will now be reviewing progress on a number of other projects.
d) Citizen’s Advice Bureau:
Cllr. Hatcher reported that he attended a zoom meeting with the organisation’s local area representative. They are keen to get back to Cranbrook as soon as they have sufficient volunteers to provide the service. It is not yet known if they will be able to return to Cranbrook Library so an alternative venue is being sought.
He had also been made aware the Paddock Wood Community Advice Service, who had been set up when the Citizen Advice Bureau closed the Paddock Wood branch. They were keen to talk to us regarding a presence in Cranbrook.
e) Cranbrook Museum:
Cllr. Pethurst reported the Museum is looking to reopen with an entertaining and exciting range of exhibitions. The room dedicated to the Cranbrook Colony Artists continues to expand. The Museum Curator is scheduled to meet with TWBC to discuss funding of the facility. In response to Cllr. Bunyan, he would enquire if they intend to update the contents of the display cabinet in the Vestry Hall.
Cllr. Bunyan advised the next meeting was scheduled for 23rd March.
160/21: Clerk’s Report:
The deadline for an election to be called is the 21st February, the Elections Office at Tunbridge Wells will let us know as soon as that date has passed whether an election has been called or we can go ahead and co-opt two new members.
The Clerk reported that we had received an email from Citizen’s Advice Tunbridge Wells & District thanking the Council for the recent grant award of £1,000.
162/21: Borough & County Councillor Reports:
a) Cllr. Holden reported on the KCC budget setting meeting he had attended today. They had started with a £27m gap that had to be closed to deliver a balanced budget, as is required by law. The KCC element of council tax will go up by 2% with an additional 1% ring fenced for adult social care. Bus services will see a reduction of £2.2m in the subsidies they receive. The annual cost of a Travel Saver Pass has been increased from £370 to £450. KCC is the only authority outside of London that offers this type of bus pass. He was pleased to report an additional £300,000 had been approved for the introduction of a new swathe cut to conform to the needs of the Plan Bee Project, which is in itself a recognition of the importance of environmental policies.
He encouraged the Parish Council to make an application to his Covid Recovery Fund, available to help communities recover from the effects of the pandemic.
b) Cllr. Fairweather wanted to praise the Borough Council and particularly the officers in the Finance Department for the assistance they have given to businesses across the board in helping them claim the support grants available. The money has been provided by government but administered by the Borough Council.
TWBC had been successful in their grant application to Salix, a public sector decarbonisation finance committee. £1.17m has been awarded solely for the Weald Leisure Centre, which will receive upgrades relating to decarbonisation. The upgrades include the design and installation of air source heat pumps, heat distribution upgrades, solar panelling, LED lighting, fabric insulation and ventilation improvements and will be completed within the next twelve months. He also reported that Fusion is making significant investment in the equipment available inside the leisure centre.
The Hawkhurst Golf Club planning application has finally been dismissed which is good news for anyone living on the A229.
He gave an update on the electoral boundary changes. Each councillor will be responsible for 2,400 voters and each ward will have three councillors. His ward of Sissinghurst and Frittenden will no longer exist, early mapping shows it will possibly become part of the Cranbrook and Benenden ward. The exact details will be known by 29th November this year, after which there will be a local review of the parish boundaries.
In response to the Chairman, Cllr. Fairweather advised Cllr. Dawlings will be up for election in 2022, himself and Cllr. Warne in 2023 and in 2024 when the boundary changes take effect, there will be a one-off election across the whole borough.
163/21: Items for Information:
a) Cllr. Fletcher advised that Revd. Ann Pollington would be holding her retirement service on Tuesday 1st March at 6.30pm in Church, all are welcome, pancakes will be served! Anyone wishing to contribute to her leaving present can either leave a cheque or cash donation in the Church safe or make an online transfer referenced as “Revd Ann’s leaving present”.
The Meeting was closed.