MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE PARISH COUNCIL HELD IN VESTRY HALL, CRANBROOK ON THURSDAY 10th NOVEMBER 2022

PRESENT: Cllrs. Fletcher (Chair), Bunyan, Dyke, Fairweather, Gilbert, Hartley, Hatcher, Mills, Pethurst, Rampling, Simpson, Somers, Stone and Tomlinson.

APOLOGIES: Cllr. Kings and Borough Councillor Dawlings

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.

95/22: Minutes of the Previous Meeting to be confirmed:

The Chairman proposed the Minutes of the meetings held on the 13th and 27th October 2022 be adopted as a true record, this was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.

96/22: Preparation for Kings Coronation:

The Chairman briefed the Members with regards to a meeting he had attended along with Cllr. Pethurst and the ‘Nuts in May’ organisers. The date of the Coronation is 6th May 2023, and ‘Nuts in May’ is planned for the last weekend in May. The possibility of having celebrations/events on the two weekends in between had been proposed.

Current thoughts include short term celebrations (street parties in individual hamlets, sports events, talks reflecting King Charles’ interests) and long term (new land mark such as a Coronation Garden).

The Chairman invited all Members to share ideas and help enable local organisations to become involved. The Clerk took an action to share the Chairmans notes from the meeting to all Councillors.

There will be an article in the upcoming edition of The Cake.

97/22: Community and Medical Centre:

Cllr. Gilbert advised that the Project Manager is currently preparing the necessary documents for the framework procurement process to appoint a contractor.

Cllr. Fletcher advised that along with Cllr’s Gilbert and Pethurst he had attended a webinar

with the organisation Fundraising for All, who provides free, expert fundraising advice to small charities, voluntary organisations, community groups and social enterprises across Kent and Medway.

They will also provide mentors tailored for each fundraising path we decided to engage in – community engagement, grant awarding bodies, approaching high net worth individuals etc.

He also reminded people of Carol Gower’s contribution of £100,000 raised over the last 22 years from the Millennium Tours.

A further webinar will be arranged with Fundraising for All towards the end of the year. All Members are welcome to join. The Clerk took an action to share a document created by the Chairman, that introduces the topic. Any members wishing to join the webinar are welcome and should advise the Chairman.

In response to a question from Cllr. Simpson, the Chairman responded that representatives from other local organisations are very welcome to join the webinar.

98/22: Response to the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Electoral System Consultation

The Chairman referred to the note from the Boundary Commission stating they are happy to pause their work whilst the Borough carry out their consultation regarding remaining with ‘elections by thirds’, or moving to ‘all out’ elections, and to the electoral cycle comparison table that had been shared prior to the meeting.

He then invited Parish and Borough Cllr. Fairweather to speak. He hoped that the discussions would centre around what outcome would best serve the electorate, and also to consider the financial implications of each option. He also hoped everyone would submit a response individually.

The Chairman then invited all Members to discuss the options. Councillors debated the pros and cons of both electoral cycles.

Cllr. Hatcher was in favour of ‘elections by thirds’, but could also see the merits of ‘all out’ elections.

Cllr. Bunyan felt that with the additional information a more informed decision could be made now.

Cllr. Fairweather expressed his concern for parishes, such as Goudhurst, that under the current Boundary Commissions plans would be fractured and true local representation would be at risk. He is also pointed out that ‘all out’ elections are less costly, and that TWBC are the only council in Kent to still use ‘elections by third’ model.

The Chairman closed the meeting and invited Anthony Harris, Chairman for Goudhurst Parish Council, to speak. He reiterated Cllr Fairweather comments regarding the negative effects to Goudhurst under Boundary Commission current plans. He also felt that it might result in

the electorate voting along political party lines, rather than for the best candidate, if they had no personal knowledge of the candidates.

The Chairman reopened the meeting.

He asked Members to vote on their preference of electoral cycle. The voting was as follows:

In favour of election by thirds            1

In favour of all out elections               10

Abstained                                            3

He then asked Members to vote on whether the Parish Council should express the majority view in writing to the Boundary Commission. The voting was as follows:

Yes                  9

No                   1

Abstained        4

The Chairman committed to registering the decisions the following week.

Approval of Committee Reports as detailed below:

99/22: Policy & Resources:

Cllr. Pethurst referred to the minutes of the meeting held on the 8th November and in particular the grant awarding policy updates. He highlighted that applications will now need to be received 3 months prior to the date the funding is required. Also, that the council may recommend alternative funding sources. All previous applicants from the last two years will be sent a copy of the updated policy and application form.

Cllr. Fletcher advised that the Clerks and Cllr. Dyke had taken part in an online meeting with BP Pulse to understand why there was a shortfall in reimbursements vs electricity costs. Cllr. Dyke reported that the representatives from BP have committed to investigate the issue and a further meeting has been arranged for 23rd November to discuss the outcome of their investigation and the options going forward.

Cllr. Pethurst proposed the minutes be adopted, this was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed.

100/22: Planning & Preservation:

Cllr. Bunyan referred to the minutes of the meetings held 18th October and 1st November, highlighting the application on Jaeger Field that the committee had recommended for refusal.

In addition, Cllr. Bunyan reported that there is new head of Planning at TWBC, and the committee would like to invite him to attend a meeting in the near future. The Parish Council eco design guide has been forwarded to him.

101/22: Properties and Burial Grounds:

Cllr. Gilbert reported that the material and thermal lining for the Vestry Hall curtains has been delivered. An energy survey has also taken place in the Vestry Hall complex, and we are currently awaiting the report.

Unfortunately, the public toilets had been targeted by antisocial behaviour and vandalism. The most recent incidents involved the outer door being ripped off and an attempt had been made to pull off the metal shutter.

102/22: Community Development:

Cllr. Hatcher advised that a meeting is due to take place later this month. Budget and cost centre codes will be part of the agenda.

103/22: Neighbourhood Plan:

Cllr. Pethurst reported that the consultation closes on the evening of Monday 14th November. It is then ready for examination. TWBC are in the process of appointing an examiner on behalf of the parish council.

104/22 Chairmen’s report:

The Chairman reported that Rainbows pre-school is in desperate need of a new space as their time at Cranbrook Primary School is coming to an end. They will close at the end of February 2023 if they are unable to find a new location.

The Chairman also reported that he has managed to arrange a virtual meeting with Snowfields, Leigh Academy Trust.

The Chairman will be laying Remembrance wreaths at St Dunstan’s Church and at the Cranbrook war memorial on Sunday, on behalf of the Parish Council.  Cllr. Somers will be laying a wreath on behalf of the Parish Council at Sissinghurst.

An exhibition of recently discovered WWI photos will be displayed in Vestry Hall on Sunday.

105/22: Delegate Reports:

a) Cranbrook Museum and Local History C.I.O.

Cllr. Pethurst reported that, next year, the museum will be celebrating 50 years at their current location.

The museum will shortly be looking for people with curator experience. They may ask the Parish Council for support.

b) Hop Pickers:

Cllr. Fletcher read out a report from Graham Holmes – The Group are still focused on the provision of an interpretation panel at the Church Farm Development in Paddock Wood and much progress has been made to date.

It has also been noted that Planning Application No.22/00498, in relation to alterations at the former Cranbrook Station site, has now been approved by TWBC.

Consultations have commenced into the introduction of a website for the Group.

c) Transport:

Cllr. Fletcher read out the following statement provided by Graham Holmes – Although this organisation is no longer active, Councillors will be disappointed to note that the Sundays only buses between Cranbrook and Hastings are to be withdrawn as a result of a funding review.

d) Age Concern:

Cllr. Simpson reported the following:

  • Chair Keep Fit will be starting next week on a Tuesday at 10am in Church House
  • A subsidised lunch at the Milkhouse is planned for January
  • Carol Gower will be helping to arrange some outings
  • Involve Kent have agreed to awarding a grant to Age Concern which will help towards hall hire fees, keep fit teacher etc.
  • Community Kitchen will be taken under the wing of Wellbeing in the Weald so it can be extended to afternoon tea for children.

e) CCAAC:

Cllr. Bunyan reported that the next meeting will take place at the end of November.

f) The Tourism Group:

The Tourism group had recently meet. Cllr. Dyke reported that they had discussed the success of the Apple fayre. Next year’s theme is The Big Apple. Concerns had been raised that the official road closure was for three hours, but activities had taken place in the road beyond the permitted times.

The Churchwarden had advised that they hope to have a new Vicar by late Summer 2023.

Cranbrook in Bloom receiving the KCC grant for the Walk-Through Time leaflets reprint is being discussed.

The group discussed a publicity event to coincide with the reopening of the windmill next spring. This will be put to the Windmill committee. Increased visitor numbers will qualify the attraction for KCC signage.

g) Tunbridge Wells & District Citizen’s Advice

Cllr. Hatcher reported that Citizen’s Advice will return to face-to-face sessions in the library, starting in January.

106/22: Clerk’s Report:

The Penny Farthing will be removed imminently for repairs and it’s anticipated it will be returned w/c 14th December.

Kent County Council have notified that they will be replacing a number of streetlight columns in the County, including Cranbrook:

High Street – 8

Carriers Road – 2

Stone Street – 1

Waterloo Road – 1

Completion is anticipated to be February 2023.

107/22: Correspondence:

No correspondence had been received that required reporting.

108/22: Borough & County Councillor Reports:

a) Cllr. Fairweather reported that that will be some changes to garden waste collection dates. Anyone affected will receive an email shortly from TWBC notifying them of the change.

109/22: Items for Information:

a) Cllr. Fairweather reported that he had received correspondence regarding two Sissinghurst footpaths. The paths in question are on private land and are not Public Rights of Way, the public is given access by the land owner. The path next to Bramling Gardens has now been reopened. Correspondence also included lack of access to Chad Lake. Cllr. Fairweather confirmed that this land is private and the owners do not wish to grant access to the public.

b) Cllr. Somers reported that a letter had been received from the Baptist Church for inclusion in The Cake. The editors had decided that it didn’t meet editorial criteria.

c) Cllr. Dyke reported that discussions and planning was underway for a wellbeing fair to be held in Vestry Hall, similar to the fair Wellbeing in the Weald had held in 2019. She reported that Wellbeing had not been charged for use of the hall, therefore they had not charged stall holders. However, a contribution towards the heating charge could be funded by selling teas, coffee and cakes. Cllr. Gilbert advised that Properties and Burials Committee will be discussing at the next committee meeting what heating charges will be levied to events such as this.

d) The Chairman reported that the parish council needed to bear in mind that we may see the tax base figure used to calculate the precept reduced from next year, as the Borough may need to increase their bad debt provisions due to households not being able to afford their Council Tax bills.

e) Cllr. Hatcher reported that Pricilla Queen of the Dessert had been a great success with two nights sold out. The next show will be a Christmas pantomime.

f) Cllr. Pethurst mentioned that he had noticed Cranbrook School emits a lot of light pollution. Cllr. Tomlinson advised that the lighting is provided for the boarding students who are allowed to use some of the sports facilities on site up until 9.30pm. Cllr. Pethurst felt that the angle of the lights could be improved.

The Meeting was closed.

A member of the public referred to the Chairmans’ previous call for cost saving ideas. Due to the effect of inflation on the value of earmarked funds, she encouraged the Parish Council take a fresh look at what the needs of the parish are, and to consider bringing forward any planned projects. She further encouraged that careful consideration is given to the amount of money that will be requested from the precept for earmarked funds.  The Chairman thanked her.

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