Minutes of the meeting of Hollingbourne Parish Council
Held on 9 March 2009
in the Cardwell Pavilion
Present: Mr M Bedwell (Chairman), Mrs S Baxter Mr J Cobbett, (Vice-Chairman),
Mr P Mace, Mr F Stephenson, Mr A Ward, Mr A Williams.
Also in attendance: Mrs Daphne Parvin (Borough Councillor), Ms E Lawrence (Clerk),
PCSO J Baulf and 8 members of the public.
1. Apologies for absence Dr S Bauer
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 (Circulated prior to meeting)
Mr Williams proposed that the minutes were accepted as a true and accurate record of the meeting, seconded by Mrs Baxter and agreed. The Chairman signed the minutes.
4. Matters Arising (not covered elsewhere on the agenda)
– The restoration of the old bench by the railway bridge and the installation of a new bench by the church were noted. Thanks were extended to Borough Councillor Mrs Parvin for financial support from her devolved budget, and to Councillors Baxter and Williams for securing and siting the benches. It was noted that it is now possible to walk from Eyhorne Green via Tanyard Green and under the railway bridge, to the Church with 4 seats along the route.
Mr Williams offered to submit a paragraph for the Parish Magazine. Action: AW
– Mr Williams had spoken with Jim Boot at MBC re the draft Sustainable Community Strategy and is exploring the road show to be present at the Fete. Mr Boot had also expressed willingness to help if possible with the Community Action Plan and Village Design Statement if it was decided to proceed with the latter.
– Mrs Baxter confirmed that she and Mr Ward had discussed the Community Action Plan and would like a meeting dedicated to this topic. Mr Williams suggested reviewing the Council’s performance at the AGM, or at another extraordinary meeting. Mr Bedwell proposed extraordinary meetings for these topics, which was agreed by all.
5. Crime Update
– There were eight reported crimes in the last month: six thefts, one case of criminal damage to property and one burglary.
– Another Speedwatch exercise had taken place in the village
– A further PCSO surgery will take place on 15th at the Cardwell Pavilion, from 2 – 3pm, but there had been a zero attendance at the last one.
– Mr Mace asked if a police vehicle was still attending the school at school collection time, and PCSO Baulf agreed to report back if this would continue from time to time.
– Mr Bedwell asked if the reduction from 60mph to 50 mph was likely to be introduced locally and if so how would it affect the village. The new 50mph limit is intended to reduce the high death toll on rural roads. It will apply to single carriage A, B and C roads. Local authorities will have the power to raise the limit to 60mph on the safest roads, but will have to justify it.
6. Chairman’s Report
The Chairman stated his report would be brief as there would be a longer public question time. He apologised for the delay in responding to a request and offer of help from Mrs Johnstone in cutting back the ivy which is rapidly growing on the trees along the back of the pavilion.
Mr Bedwell expressed his regret that Dr Bauer was unwell and consequently unable to be present and asked the Clerk to read a statement she had received earlier in the day, regarding the recent reports in the local press and the out-of-court settlement that had been reached. Councillor Bauer, in that statement, declined to indemnify the Parish Council against incurred costs as a result of the settlement.
Having heard the statement, Mr Bedwell again expressed his regret that Dr Bauer could not be present as it was difficult to clarify some points, namely:
a) The Council’s solicitors had originally asked for a confidentiality clause, but this had been removed by mutual agreement, at the request of Dr Szwedziuk.
b) There was no record, nor could it be remembered by anyone present at the meeting of 9 May 2007, when Mr Williams was Chairman, that Dr Bauer objected to the email in question being shown to the people named in it.
c) The Parish Council is not aware of any letter of apology being sent on 4 June 2007. The letter of apology that was sent is dated August 2008 and formed part of the settlement terms.
Mr Bedwell again reiterated that the whole affair had been distressing to all concerned.
****The meeting was adjourned to permit the public to ask questions. *****
On re-opening the meeting, Mr Cobbett asked and was granted the permission of the Chairman to read a communication he had received from Mr Little, who had written to Mr Cobbett that “should Cllr. Bauer decide not to make restitution, this will result in significant expenditure appearing in the Council’s accounts. In that event, in view of the fact that Cllr. Bauer’s libellous comments did not relate to Council business but to a personal dispute with a neighbour, I will not hesitate to make use of an elector’s statutory rights (under the Audit Commission and Freedom of information legislation) to access all related Council documents etc and then make a formal objection to the Council’s external auditor in respect of any related expenditure which remains in the Council’s 2008/9 Accounts.”
The Clerk clarified that both the Kent Association of Local Councils and the Council Insurers had deemed the email as Council business, but that the content included comments that were libellous.
Mr Mace apologised that he had inadvertently sent an email which had been distributed to both council members and a member of the public. He asserted that he could not support Dr Bauer in her refusal to recompense the Council.
An extensive discussion followed.
8. Finance Report
Mr Cobbett summarised the financial position as the end of year approached. The Council are facing a situation of an income of £25,000 income as opposed to expenditure of just over £30.000, the difference being due mainly to the contribution towards fighting the KIG proposals, essential unexpected works to the Cardwell Pavilion and recent legal fees.
He outlined the proposed budget for the forthcoming year, explaining that rental cost of the Pavilion would be increased for all, (the Pre-school hiring costs having been static since 2005). 2009/10 figures were anticipated at an income of £28,000 against an expenditure of £29,000, the imbalance being found through reserves.
Mr Cobbett proposed acceptance of the forthcoming budget, seconded by Mr Williams,
and agreed by all.
A list of cheques to be issued for February expenditure was circulated prior to the meeting.
Mr Cobbett proposed that the cheques be issued, seconded by Mr Bedwell and agreed.
9. Clerk’s Report
– The Clerk confirmed that a new laptop had been ordered and delivery is awaited.
– A response had finally been received from MBC Enforcement that no breach had taken place in respect of the offices advertised for rent at the former Station House.
– The objection to KIG by the Parish Council had been incorrectly deemed by MBC as being received too late, and after a robust challenge, an apology was issued and the objection was accepted.
– A quote for an additional CCTV camera received from Prism alarms and will be considered by the Parks Committee in the next financial year. Action: Mr Ward
10. Parks Committee
Mr Mace had handed over to Mr Ward as Chair of the Parks Committee. Outstanding matters
include notice boards, for which quotes have been requested from a bespoke company and
a local carpenter. The external lighting was noted to be inadequate especially for those who
lock the Pavilion after dark. Possible further improvements and upgrades are being explored.
11. Planning Committee
The following application had been considered by the Planning Committee:
MA/09/0266 for the erection of single storey front and rear extensions at The Granary,
Smiths Farm, Hollingbourne Hill. No objection.
12. Environment Report
13. Borough Councillors Report
14. Community Action Plan
Mrs Baxter expressed the need for updated action points from the CAP Steering Group and again reminded the Council that not all points had an allocated lead Councillor. She proposed a separate meeting to address these and other issues, seconded by Mr Ward, agreed by all and arranged for 30th March at 7.30pm in the Cardwell Pavilion. Mr Ward wished to see the Community Action Plan totally integrated into Parish Council business, as opposed to being a separate agenda item, and to hold a workshop-style meeting.
Mr Mace reported that the applicant’s appeal had been validated. MBC will still hold a Planning meeting in order to make a decision and respond to the Planning Inspector. The deadline was noted to be 6th April. The Joint Parishes group to hold a “dry-run”
On 24 March 2009 in preparation for the public meeting.
16. Correspondence List
A list of correspondence received since the last meeting had been circulated prior to the meeting.
17. Items for Information
Mrs Baxter reported that she is completing the forms for Village of the Year competition and she was pleased to report that this year Christopher Rudgard had agreed to enter the Retailer of the Year category.
Date of next meeting:6 April at 7.30pm in The Cardwell Pavilion, which will also be the Parish Assembly.