Properties & Burial Grounds 26th October 2021

MINUTES OF A MEETING OF THE BURIAL GROUNDS AND PROPERTIES COMMITTEE HELD ON TUESDAY 26th OCTOBER 2021

PRESENT: Cllr. Gilbert (in the Chair), Cllrs. Fletcher, Fermor, Kings, Rampling and Waters.

APOLOGIES: Cllr. Bunyan.

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.

7/21: St. Dunstan’s Churchyard:

Quote for the removal of 2 dead limbs of a boundary tree:

The Clerk advised one of the boundary trees had two dead limbs that required removal. Although in the Conservation Area, this can be dealt with under a 5-day notice which has already been submitted to the Tree Officer at TWBC. Two quotes for removing the dead limbs had been received. Cllr. Gilbert proposed the quote of £85 from Ben Hatcher be accepted. This was seconded by Cllr. Waters and agreed.

8/21: Golford Cemetery:

Request for grass collection:

We had received an email from a parishioner who tends her late husband’s ashes plot. Because of the difficulty in keeping the memorial clear of grass cuttings, that tend to stick to the memorial, she has requested the Council consider adding grass collection to the current grounds contract. Members discussed the additional costs involved and decided it would be cost prohibitive. Cllr. Gilbert would speak to the contractors and ask if more care can be taken when cutting around the ashes tablets and to ensure as much loose grass as possible is removed with a blower after cutting.

9/21: Sissinghurst Cemetery:

a) Use of glysophate in the Cemeteries:

Two relatives had voiced concern at the use of glysophate as a weedkiller in the cemeteries.  Members agreed that hand removal of weeds is both time consuming and costly. The contractors will only spray where necessary, however Cllr. Gilbert is happy to research alternative more eco-friendly methods, for future discussion and consideration.

b) Tree felling quotes:

During the site visit in July, Members agreed to seek quotes to fell 5 conifer trees on the northern boundary to improve the vista and allow the other trees already in situ, more room to thrive. Two quotes had been received. Cllr. Gilbert proposed that the quote from Ben Hatcher totaling £790 should be accepted. This was seconded by Cllr. Rampling and agreed. The Clerk would submit the necessary application to the Tree Officer at TWBC seeking approval for the work to be undertaken.

10/21: Cranbrook & Sissinghurst War Memorials:

Cllr. Fletcher raised concern at a small tree growing between the howitzer and the plough and whether it should be removed? He was unsure of the species. Members agreed to have a look to see if they felt it was an appropriate location within the War Memorial, for a tree to grow.

The cadets had agreed to repaint the howitzer as and when possible. They would be reimbursed by the Parish Council for the cost of the paint. Cllr. Fletcher offered to oil the wooden handles of the plough.

11/21: Public Toilet Building – Crane Lane:

Cllr. Gilbert advised Members the electricity supply in the building had been reinstated as it was discovered that it feeds the power box at the end of the Regal Car Park, which supplies electricity to the Breast Screening Unit. Members discussed the feasibility of reopening one of the toilets as a short-term solution to the lack of public facilities. In addition to recommissioning costs, we would also need to get quotes for locking, unlocking and regular cleaning. Cllr. Gilbert would provide the Clerk with a brief so she could obtain the relevant quotes. Cllr. Waters agreed to approach local businesses in the Town to see who would be happy to allow the public to use their facilities. A list of those willing, could be displayed on the door of the currently closed facilities.

Cllr. Fletcher advised he had spoken to Linda Page, who had suggested that the mosaic bench is removed before any further damage is sustained. The Museum are happy to store the salvageable parts until such time that it can be relocated. Cllr. Fletcher proposed we should accept the Museum’s offer to look after the piece for the time being, this was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed. Cllr. Fletcher showed Members some photographs of creative ways of displaying artwork in gabion baskets which could be considered for the mosaic in the future.

12/21: Angley Cottage:

There were no issues to report.

13/21: Vestry Hall:

a) Roof repair quote:

Cllr. Gilbert advised Members there was a roof light in the ladies’ toilet that was leaking and it was a possibility that it could be affecting a neighbouring property. It had previously been patched up but now required a more permanent repair. We had received a quote to include plant, labour and materials of £1,150. Cllr. Gilbert proposed the quote be accepted; this was seconded by Cllr. Kings and agreed.

b) Vestry Hall water heater

Cllr. Gilbert reported some plumbing work had been necessary to repair several minor leaks. This had already been undertaken to prevent the leaks causing any further damage. It had also been established that a new water heater was required in the ladies’ toilet. We had received one quote for its replacement and were awaiting another. Members agreed to delegate the decision of which quote to accept to Cllr. Gilbert, to avoid any unnecessary delay.

14/21: Vestry Hall Cottage:

Cllr. Gilbert advised that an inspection of the loft space is necessary, to check if the slight dip in the roof line required attention. There is also a small metre high retaining garden wall that requires repointing.  

15/21: Information Centre:

Cllr. Gilbert advised there is currently no update regarding the challenge submitted to the Valuation Office regarding the Business Rates for the building.

16/21: Noticeboards and Shelters:

Quote for replacement or repair of bus shelter:

Following the vandalism to the bus shelter at Swifts View, the Clerks had tried unsuccessfully to seek several quotes for replacement glass. Local companies appear reluctant to respond to any invitation to quote. We had received a quote of £865.65 from the original manufacturer of the bus shelter, to replace the glass with a more robust polycarbonate. We had also sought a quote for replacing the shelter with a more aesthetically pleasing wooden alternative. However, these are

much more costly, at just over £8,000.

Cllr. Fletcher felt more research was needed, especially with the closure of HWA which would mean more children would be travelling to school by bus. We should know where the shelters are needed most, before any decision could be made to purchase additional shelters, regardless of type. It was suggested Cllr. Hatcher could ask for suggestions on the Parish Council Facebook page. Cllr. Fermor also offered to write a small piece for The Cake. In the meantime, Cllr. Gilbert proposed we accept the quote from GW Shelter Solutions to replace the missing panels with polycarbonate on the shelter at Swifts View. This was seconded by Cllr. Kings and agreed.

17/21: Benches and Cycle Racks:

Request to site a memorial bench:

The Clerk advised we had received a request to site a memorial bench by the relative of a Cranbrook parishioner, who had recently died. It was agreed that a new bench could be sited in the Ball Field, or alternatively by the bus stop outside Scott House, however the latter would require permission from KCC Highways. The bench would have to be of a minimum standard, made from hardwood and sourced from a reputable company such as British Gates. The cost of installation would also need to be met. The Clerk would contact the lady who made the request and discuss the options.

18/21: Red Telephone Kiosks:

Cllr. Waters stated she would like to see the red telephone box near Swifts View relocated in the Town Centre and filled with tourism literature. Members agreed that the Parish Council could approach Cllr. Holden for a Members Grant to cover the cost of this.

19/21: Five Year Plan and Budget:

Members had been sent a copy of the Five Year Plan. It was noted the noticeboards were in need of oiling in the next twelve months, to help preserve them. Cllr. Gilbert had spoken to a member of staff from the Belle Vue School, they had offered to undertake this as a project for some of the students. We would provide the necessary materials and equipment. It was proposed by Cllr. Gilbert, seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed to accept the Five Year Plan as presented. A copy will be filed with the minutes.

As part of the budget discussion, it was necessary to review the hire charges for the hall and the burial fees. Cllr. Fletcher was very concerned how spiraling fuel costs would affect the hall’s heating bills. It was proposed by Cllr. Fletcher, seconded by Cllr. Kings and agreed to increase the session rates by a few pounds and the heating charge applicable between October – March to £15 per session. There would also be a 10% heating surcharge added to the hourly cost of hiring the hall or the Council Chamber to help cover the cost of heating. A copy of the fees as agreed, is filed with these minutes.

The burial fees were discussed and compared to neighbouring parishes. We were still very competitive in relation to other parishes. Members felt the fees should be increased to be more in line with surrounding areas. Cllr. Gilbert proposed the exclusive right of burial should increase to £400 and to £200 for an ashes plot. This was seconded by Cllr. Kings and agreed. All fees are doubled for non-parishioners. A full list of the revised fees is filed with these minutes and will take effect from 1st April 2022.

Members discussed the remainder of the budget in full. Cllr. Gilbert advised that we should be putting aside some monies to cover the cost of replacing the boilers in the Vestry Hall as they are close to the end of their natural lifespan and are likely to be uneconomical to repair. With this in mind £500 was added to the budget for specified items under cost code 210. With the figures examined and discussed, Cllr Gilbert proposed the budget as presented be accepted, this was seconded by Cllr. Waters and agreed. A copy of the proposed budget for recommendation to Full Council is filed with these minutes.

20/21: Items for Information:

Cllr. Fletcher reported that it appears some ashes had been scattered in St. Dunstan’s Churchyard without permission. No ashes can be scattered without the permission of the landowner. A faculty exists for ashes to be interred in the Garden of Remembrance, but permission needs to be granted by the Church and a fee paid to the Diocese. The ashes will need to be removed sensitively.

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