Minutes of the meeting of Hollingbourne Parish Council
held on 14th February 2011 in the Cardwell Pavilion at 7.30pm
Present: Mr M Bedwell (Chairman) Mr A Ward (Vice-Chairman), Dr S Bauer,
Mr J Cobbett, Mrs. S O’Connell, Mr F Stephenson, Mr A Williams.
Also in attendance: Ms E Lawrence (Clerk), County Councillor Mrs J Whittle,
Borough Councillor Mrs D Parvin, and 6 members of the public.
1. Apologies for absence Mr G Bryan (family commitments), Mrs J Whittle( clash of meetings)
2. Declaration of Interests and amendments to Register of Interests
There were no declarations of interest.
There were no amendments to the Register of Interests.
3. Approval of minutes of last meeting
It was resolved that the minutes were a true and accurate record of the meeting and that they should be accepted and were signed by the Chairman.
a) Mr Ward clarified the position regarding the company whose representative had attended the last meeting, as there was significant confusion over the name “Wealden” and the relationship between them and SLK Ltd.
b) Concern expressed that there is still no co-ordinator for this year’s Fete, only 4 months away. Mr Cobbett offered to undertake the task, and was thanked by the Chairman.
5. Chairman’s Report
Mr Bedwell reported on the chaos which ensued after a traffic accident on the A20 caused traffic to be diverted along Greenway Court road. This resulted in severe damage to the verges on both sides of the carriageway, which reportedly will not be repaired until after the closure of Eyhorne Street for the replacement of the gas mains. There being historical evidence that roads are widened by the failure to restore verges after damage/erosion, it was proposed that Kent Highways should be asked to restore the verges before the road closure. The vote was carried, but was not unanimous.
The continuation of the Joint Parishes group had been formalised at the meeting of 4th February, with a cost to the parish of £126.81. As the chairman is unable to attend the next meeting on 17th February, and in the absence of Mr Bryan, it was agreed that Mr Williams would attend.
Mr Cobbett fed back following a meeting with Kent Highways and a police representative held to discuss the traffic concerns in the village. In preference to a Speedwatch scheme, reactive light signs have been successful in some villages, but cost parishes about £6,000
6. Crime Report
The Clerk had received a crime report from PCSO Woods, with one matter, that being the criminal damage to fencing along part of Greenway Court Road.
7. Clerks report
The Clerk received a request from the WI asking for a loan of the Cardwell Pavilion without charge, proceeds for the Hollingbourne Meadows Trust. Agreed. Other matters dealt with throughout the meeting.
8. County Councillors Report
The Clerk read a report received from Mrs Whittle:
a) Tackling speeding
Meeting held to discuss how we can possibly reduce speeding through the village. Suggested that the parish revisit the idea of establishing a Speed Watch scheme.
b) Local Development Framework
I am delighted that MBC have publicly declared their intention that they do not wish to see any development on the land north of Bearsted that was under massive threat by AXA, and has thrown out proposals put forward to create an 11 hectare business space on the land south of the A20 in the parish of Leeds. Pursuing the proposal for AONB status to include much or all of the land north of Bearsted but this will not be considered quickly because of the lengthy process involved with Natural England (a government agency) that oversees AONB proposals. New criteria for AONB designations is due to be released before Easter.
c). No KCC Council Tax increase but a very difficult budget to deliver next year
Next year KCC will have to deliver £95m in savings or 10% of our net revenue budget excluding schools, including a £58m loss in government grants, £26m of unavoidable pressures and £15m for new priorities. The unavoidable pressures cover increases in prices charged by contractors, delivering adult social care to the growing number of vulnerable and elderly people in the county, £5m of additional investment in Children’s Social Services to help reduce social worker vacancies and meeting the cost of the employer’s 1% National Insurance increase for KCC staff. The new priorities include £6m to fund an ambitious capital programme that will enable the authority to honour its previous commitments despite cuts in government funding. This will enable KCC to rebuild and refurbish a number of schools and special schools in serious disrepair and deliver promises covering libraries, roads, youth facilities and regeneration projects. Other priorities include a £5m Big Society Fund to provide “seed funding” to support the establishment of more social enterprises and voluntary groups to provide tailor-made services for the residents of Kent. Savings will be sought from significant efficiencies, income generation (for example selling services to other authorities and schools and raising charges to social services clients in line with benefit increases), service changes and modernisation (ensuring services are available online wherever possible thus saving administrative costs) and taking £15m from our reserves. A further £65m of savings will have to be found in 2012-13 to deliver a balanced budget for the following year.
There is no pay increase for KCC staff this year on top of last year’s pay freeze and some 1500 posts will be removed over the next three years. In addition staff benefits will also be reviewed to deliver substantial savings. The recent restructure of senior officer positions at KCC will deliver a leaner management structure and a saving of £750,000. These measures cumulatively will deliver some £20m in staff savings over three years.
There is some good news – KCC’s Council Tax charge will be frozen next year which will provide some relief for households feeling the pressure of rising fuel charges, low interest rates impacting on savings and the VAT rise as well as impact of the overall economic climate on domestic incomes. Spending on roads will be concentrated on maintenance, safety-critical schemes and congestion reduction – traffic calming schemes unfortunately cannot not be prioritised in an era of financial austerity. Eligibility criteria for care of the elderly will be maintained enabling more people in Kent to access adult social care than in many other counties across England. Although the costs of the Freedom Pass for 11-16 year old year olds attending Kent schools will double in price from £50 to £100, the new charge still represents a significant saving for parents as the actual cost is in the region of £400.
d). FIXING POTHOLES
In mid-January an army of specialist tarmac firms launched a month-long £1m campaign to fix safety-critical potholes across the county. Planning started as soon as the snow had settled and it became clear that we would yet again be required to respond to this challenge. The firms will aim to make a permanent fix first time where they can. Everyone is aware that the public purse is under pressure and KCC is investing this money wisely now to reduce what would be a bigger bill further down the road and to minimise the problems potholes can cause for drivers in Kent.
A major drive will be launched to recruit tarmac firms for a repair campaign in the summer – when weather conditions are more favourable. This will aim to mirror the success of Kent’s six-month ‘find and fix’ campaign, which ended in October 2010 after 31,000 potholes were filled and more than 122,100 square metres of road were resurfaced. Gangs repaired every fault in the roads they worked on, not just safety-related potholes, carrying out around six times the amount of work than would normally have been done. We want to use small and medium-sized engineering firms from across Kent. They will be encouraged to bid for tenders to repair our roads and we hope this will give a welcome boost to local business in these financially trying times.
e). MAIDSTONE HOSPITAL
On 7 January KCC’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) met to discuss the Secretary of State for Health’s decision to centralise consultant-led maternity services in Tunbridge Wells, thus leaving the County Town and largest district in Kent, with poor transport links to Tunbridge Wells, with a birthing-led unit only and no appropriate medical intervention if problems arose during labour (mothers in labour would have to be transported down the single carriageway A21 by ambulance in an emergency situation). Mrs Whittle is utterly opposed to this decision andhas tabled a motion at the meeting requesting that the Secretary of State put the decision on hold and allow Maidstone’s GPs, the overwhelming majority of whom are also opposed to the removal of consultant’s from Maidstone’s maternity unit, to come together and seek to retain a consultant-led facility as they see fit as per the new GP-commissioning arrangements soon be implemented. The motion was backed by most HOSC Members and we will have written again to the Secretary of State on behalf of expectant and future parents in Maidstone.
The chairman congratulated Mrs Whittle on her promotion to the Cabinet as
Member for Specialist Children’s Services.
10. Finance Report
11. Parks Report
Concern has been expressed that lights at the Cardwell Pavilion were left on at night, but Mr Ward explained that they intentionally lit (by dawn to dusk sensors) to heighten security generally and make the CCTV recordings even clearer. It had been decided to leave the gate open for ease of access to the users of the Pavilion. Mr Bedwell reported that Hollingbourne Football Club had been supporting Leeds after they had their container broken into, and asked that people remained vigilant against crime
12. Planning Report
Erection of single storey rear extension
19, CULPEPER CLOSE, HOLLINGBOURNE, MAIDSTONE, KENT, ME17 1UE
Erection of a single storey side extension.
1, EYHORNE GREEN COTTAGES, MUSKET LANE, HOLLINGBOURNE, MAIDSTONE, KENT, ME17 1UU
10/0738 Mr Stephenson reiterated the view of the Planning Committee that, as matters outstanding from the Inspectors report when this application was refused have still not been addressed, that on planning grounds alone, the Council should object to this application. The proposal was to object.
Voting: 5 for, 1 against, 1 abstention.
11/0093 This application was formerly approved, but was out of time and the Council had previously offered no objection. There being no alterations to the plans, no objection was agreed.
Mr Stephenson proposed that planning decisions be published in the Parish Magazine and on the website. Agreed.
13. Environment report
Mr Williams stated that the hard standing area allowing access for gas working
(opposite 1 Eyhorne Street) was to a good standard.
Dr Bauer observed that the verge was badly damaged. Mr Williams stated that the dumped “spoil” in Upper Street had still not been cleared, in spite of this having been repeatedly reported since November 2010. He asked that the Clerk reintroduce the standard of copying in letters to the relevant Councillor.
Hollingbourne Hill road surface remains badly damaged and it was agreed to ask Kent Highways to conduct a survey. (1 abstention, 6 for)
Mr Williams asked that the agenda be altered as necessary to allow more time/attention to be given to those reports which fall towards the end.
14. Items for information
Mr Cobbett advised that the PCC were considering outsourcing the production of the Parish Magazine It was therefore probable that the Parish Council would be asked for an increased contribution towards costs.
The Council wished to congratulate the Pantomime group on another outstandingly successful production, much enjoyed by all.
15. nvironment Re.
Date of next meeting
Monday 14th March 2011 at 7.30pm in the Cardwell Pavilion.