Full Council Minutes 8th September 2022


PRESENT: Cllrs. Fletcher (Chair), Bunyan, Gilbert, Hatcher, Fairweather, Kings, Pethurst, Rampling, Simpson and Borough Cllr. Warne

APOLOGIES: Cllr. Dyke, Hartley, Tomlinson & Somers, and Borough Cllr. Dawlings

The Chairman lead a minute’s silence to mark the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II.

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.

71/22: Minutes of the Previous Meeting to be confirmed:

The Chairman proposed the Minutes of the Meeting held on the 11th August 2022 be adopted as a true record, this was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.

72/22: Community Centres/Medical Centre:

Cllr. Fletcher gave a brief overview of the history of the community and medical centre project, before introducing Mike Hill, Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services KCC.

Mr Hill explained that libraires fall under his remit as Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services. KCC Libraries strategy is to co-locate library services with partners. This has been successfully executed in Sevenoaks, Canterbury, Ashford, Dartford, Edenbridge Southborough and Dover. He expressed his enthusiasm for co-partnering with Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Parish Council to continue delivering library services in Cranbrook.

Cllr. Fletcher introduced Jonathan White – Project and Operations Manager, KCC – who presented the business case and the procurement report that introduced the various procurement options available. Both reports had been made available via the website prior to the meeting.

Mr White stated that de-risking the project at all stages was paramount. Referring to the business case he highlighted several points including; discussions are ongoing with the Integrated Care Board (ICB) regarding amount of space required for the medical centre, inflation in the construction industry is between 10-12% and Public Works Loan Board rates are currently 4.5%. Having already built contingency into the project, the scheme is still viable without needing to raise the precept for the community centre.

Cllr. Fletcher closed the meeting and asked if the public had any questions.

James Pearson the Head of Service Libraries Registration and Archives at Kent County Council introduced himself. He endorsed what Mike Hill had said and described how the Southborough hub had been a fabulous outcome and that the library there had a new lease of life.

Cllr. Pethurst enquired of Mr Pearson the reasoning behind KCC wishing to leave the current building and be part of the community centre. Mr Pearson explained that the current location is less central than the proposed new building, it provides an opportunity to provide a wider range of services to the community in one place and that the new space would be purpose built as a library. The current building was originally built as a sports hall.

Borough Cllr. Warne explained that co-location in high streets was a running theme in the MSc Planning course she had recently taken. Questions that will need asking include; are the uses compatible? Is there enough space for each element?

Responding to a question from a parishioner regarding cost and financial contribution form KCC, Mr White stated that the total cost figure of £7.5M had not changed. Mr Hill explained that KCC has sent a letter of comfort agreeing to contribute £0.5M towards the build.

Following a question on the risk of KCC reducing funding for libraries, Mr Hill explained that KCC has a statutory duty to provide a library service and Cranbrook library would remain. Mr White added that co-partnering has actually extended library opening hours in some cases as the library has been incorporated into the building entrance, and with the use of self-checkout the library is accessible all the time the building is open.

A question was asked regarding potential risks imposed by the residential building works that will take place adjacent to the site. Mr White explained that the residential developer had an obligation to bring services to the edge of the site. Remedial works to the Regal car park are to be carried out by which ever party started construction works first. It is thought that residential works will commence in October.

The provision of parking spaces was raised on several occasions. It was noted that this is a concern for some residents and will be fed into the architect.

The procurement report recommends the council perusing a two-stage design and build. It also includes framework options. The Board will make the decision on which framework to recommend.

Cllr. Fletcher explained that one of the next steps will be to form a group of parishioners to meet and feed in to the architect the needs of the community. Once the design is complete full project costs will be presented to Full Council to consider approval before taking out a loan.

Cllr. Pethurst asked what the implication would be on GP services in the town if the Parish Council was minded to vote against taking out the loan. Dr. Charlesworth replied that the GPs may consider developing their own site, although they may not. It was explained that the ICB has a responsibility to provide everyone with a GP, but that doesn’t have to be in the town. Patients could be dispersed to surrounding villages and towns. The ICB are onboard with the community centre/medical centre plans the parish council are proposing.

Responding to a question asked as to why the GPs wanted to join together, Dr. Charlesworth explained that all three surgeries in Cranbrook has been deemed unfit for purpose, all the current GPs are retiring within the next 5 years, and improved facilities are required to be able to offer specialist treatments and improve recruitment.

The meeting was reopened to continue with the agenda.

Approval of Committee Reports as detailed below:

73/22: Policy & Resources:

Cllr. Pethurst referred to the minutes of the meeting held on the 6th September and invited questions. None were raised, but a spelling mistake was highlighted. Cllr. Pethurst proposed that the mistake be rectified and that the minutes be adopted. This was seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed.

74/22: Planning & Preservation:

Cllr. Bunyan referred to the minutes of the meetings held 16th August and 6th September. She highlighted the long list of objections for the application at Fircroft in Sissinghurst. A spelling mistake was highlighted that the Clerk committed to amend.

75/22 Chairmen’s report:

The Chairman reminded everyone that the Boundary Commission Consultation was open until the 10th October and encouraged everyone to respond in a personal capacity, as he had already.

The Community Kitchen will commence on the 4th October at lunchtime. Mens Shed have offered to organise the cooking. Citizens Advice are attending on the 4th October to give a talk on energy saving.

Cllr. Gilbert advised that he is investigating initiating an energy report for Vestry Hall. A new community centre will be built with the latest energy efficiencies.

There is still no news on Turnden 2 enquiry.

The deadline for the next edition of The Cake is November 1st.

76/22: Delegate Reports:

Due to the time constraints of the meeting the delegated reports will be shared with all members following the meeting and are available from the Clerk.

77/22: Clerk’s Report:

Nothing to report.

78/22: Correspondence:

No correspondence had been received that required reporting.

79/22: Borough & County Councillor Reports:

a) Borough Cllr. Dawlings had submitted the following report:

As advised to your last meeting, as the Leader of the Conservative Group at TWBC I am continuing to press for TWBC to re-consider the decision to continue with electing Councillors by thirds.  A change to all-out elections would enable the creation of more single and two-member wards which I think would provide better representation for residents.  That point has also been made by Kim Fletcher on behalf of Cranbrook & Sissinghurst Parish Council.  Agreement from the Leader of TWBC/the Cabinet/the Chairman of TWBC’s General Purposes Committee is needed to call a special meeting of the Full Council to address this.  All-out elections will also save some costs in organising elections.

I am now involved with the Town Centre Area Plan for Tunbridge Wells which follows on from the work on the Local Plan.  The bulk of business rates collected by TWBC are from businesses in/around the town of Tunbridge Wells.  The Amelia Scott has just attracted its 100,000 visitor since it opened at the end of April (it is averaging 925 visitors a day) and this footfall is helping to fill vacant retail premises close to the Amelia Scott.

80/22: Items for Information:

  1. Cllr. Hatcher advised that he will be attending a CAACC zoom meeting on the 20th September discussing energy saving solutions for listed buildings.
  2. Cllr. Pethurst informed that the NDP consultation will commence on 12th September.
  3. Cllr. Bunyan reminded all that the Sissinghurst Flower Show will take place on Saturday 10th September

The Meeting was closed.

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