PRESENT: Cllr. Gilbert (in the Chair), Cllrs. Bunyan, Fletcher and Kings.

APOLOGIES: Cllr. Rampling.

Declaration of Interests, Dispensations and Predetermination:

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.

8/22: Five Year Plans & Budget.

A draft budget prepared by Cllr. Gilbert and the Clerk had been circulated to all members of the Committee for discussion. The energy costs of the hall where set to escalate and we have received notification from British Gas that we were not eligible for the Energy Bill Relief Scheme. As part of the budget setting process, the hire fees and burial fees are reviewed. Members discussed the current fees for hiring the hall and looked at the availability in the diary. They voiced concern that raising the hire charges may deter bookings, therefore it was proposed by Cllr. Gilbert, seconded by Cllr. Kings and agreed to limit the increase to the hourly heating charge, raising it from 10% to 20%, applicable from 1st January 2023. This will ensure the houly heating charge is more comparable with the session heating charge. Cllr. Fletcher thought the possibility of transferring the hall to charitable status, to allow more funding opportunities, required further exploration.

After reviewing the burial fees and comparing them with other parishes, Cllr. Gilbert proposed the fees should increase by 10% across the board, applicable from April 1st 2023. This was seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed.

A new format for the Five Year Plans is in the process of being developed. Cllr. Gilbert stated the projects he would like to see considered in the future are:

  • An energy survey for the Vestry Hall Complex
  • How to attract more bookings
  • Replacement boilers/heating options for the hall.

He has already received an offer from a KCC approved company to undertake an energy survey, they have expertise in listed buildings so hopefully they will be able to suggest some suitable solutions to improve insulation and reduce energy costs.

The draft budget was examined and discussed in detail. The properties precept would include the surplus from the burial fees but would still need to be increased from £12,900 to £18,800, most of which is due to the increase of the Vestry Hall energy costs. Cllr. Gilbert proposed the draft budget be accepted as presented, this was seconded by Cllr. Kings and agreed. A copy will be filed with these minutes.

9/22: St. Dunstan’s Churchyard:

There were no issues to report.

10/22: Golford Cemetery

a) Signage Indicating War Graves:

On behalf of the Royal British Legion, a parishioner had applied to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for signage to indicate the presence of nine war graves in the Cemetery. There was a choice of two different sizes available they just require our permission for it to be fitted. The signs are paid for and maintained by the Commission on a permanent basis.

It was proposed by Cllr. Gilbert, seconded by Cllr Bunyan and agreed to give permission for one of the smaller sized signs to be erected on the fence by the main gates into Golford Cemetery.

b) Replacement water heater for public toilet:

The Clerk reported that it had been necessary to have the water heater replaced in the public toilet Golford Cemetery. A quote of £267 + VAT had been received and accepted by the Clerk and Cllr. Gilbert.

c) Chapel Roof

The Parish Warden had reported several missing or slipped tiles. The Clerk had emailed Staplehurst Roofing to request a quote for repair. To prevent further damage or deterioration, Members delegated the decision to accept a quote to Cllr. Gilbert and the Clerk assuming the amount falls within the amounts specified in our financial regulations.

11/22: Sissinghurst Cemetery:

a) Signage Indicating War Graves:

The Committee gave permission for a small sign to be erected on the five-bar entrance gate indicating the presence of the two war graves in the Cemetery.

b) Path repairs:

A quote for £1,200 + VAT to repair the tarmacadam at the entrance to the Cemetery had been received. It was proposed by Cllr. Gilbert, seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed that to prevent further deterioration of the area, the quote be accepted as presented.

12/22: Cranbrook & Sissinghurst War Memorials:

The Clerk reported that volunteers had begun painting the howitzer, finishing would be partially dependant on weather conditions.

13/22: Public Toilet Building – Crane Lane:

Vandals had jemmied the shutter away from the wall outside the public toilets. The Clerk had approached a local handyman to see if he would be able to repair it. He had declined the offer to quote, as in his opinion specialist tools would be required. Cllrs. Fletcher and Gilbert would go and have another look at the damage to see if it could be repaired or removed altogether. Cllr. Gilbert was also looking into replacing the toilet roll holders.

14/22: Angley Cottage:

The rent of Angley Cottage was reviewed. It was proposed by Cllr. Fletcher, seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed to increase the rent by £50 per calendar month applicable from 1st April 2023.

15/22: Vestry Hall

a) History Society – Remembrance photo exhibition 13.11.22:

A request had been received from Cranbrook Museum and Local History Society for permission to hold an exhibition in the Vestry Hall, of around 800 WW1 photographs that had been found. They were official photographs passed by the government for transmission abroad. Cranbrook Remembrance Day was thought to be the ideal time for parishioners to view the exhibition. Cllr. Kings proposed the hall be offered free of charge to the museum, subject to no heating requirements, this was seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed.

b) Secondary Glazing/ Energy Saving:

The Chairman reported that we were looking into secondary glazing to help reduce heating costs in the hall. We had received one quote and were waiting another. We would also need Listed Building Consent prior to installing any secondary glazing.

The Conservation Architect had offered advice if and when we decide to go ahead. The cost is likely to exceed what can be approved by the Chairman in conjunction with the Clerk, therefore another meeting would be required to approve the expenditure.

c) Replacement Curtains:

As a further energy saving initiative, a quote to replace the existing curtains with a thermal lined alternative had been obtained. It was agreed the existing curtains were in need of replacement. The quote contained a variety of different options using different materials. The material suggested would need to be custom printed in sufficient lengths and would need to be paid for in advance by a proforma invoice. The total cost including the fleece lining, tracks and make up of the curtains is £4,092.11. As the Parish Council will order all the materials required direct, we will be able to reclaim the VAT. Cllr. Gilbert proposed we accept the costs as presented; this was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed.

16/22: Vestry Hall Cottage:

Inspection report:

An inspection of the cottage had been undertaken on 3rd October. Cllr. Gilbert was in the process of typing out the report which he will share with the Committee, when completed.

He still needs to check the roof space but the overall the structure of the cottage is in good order. The tenants will again be given advice to ensure access routes remain clear for safety reasons.

17/22: Information Centre:

Cllr. Gilbert would like to find out more information regarding the well under the floor in the corner, as a possible energy source. Cllr Fletcher would email ex Parish Chairman, Peter North to see if he has any photographs of the area and the well before the floor was laid over it?

18/22: Noticeboards and Shelters:

Cllr. Gilbert was hopeful sufficient volunteers will come forward in the Spring to re-oil the noticeboards.

A quote to refurbish the Sissinghurst Penny Farthing had been obtained from the original maker. He was proposing to replace the handle bars which had been previously damaged and to strengthen the main structure in preparation for galvanising. The cost of removal, repairs, galvanising and re-installing would be £2,624. It would be an additional £65 to apply a mordant solution to pre-age the finish to a more aesthetically pleasing weathered grey. Cllr. Bunyan proposed accepting the quote as presented, this was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.

19/22: Benches & Cycle Racks:

No issues were raised.

20/22: Red Telephone Kiosks:

It was agreed the present location of the kiosks made them unsuitable to use to display tourist information. Previous enquiries had determined the cost of moving them to a new location was prohibitive.

21/22: Items for Information:

No items were raised.

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