Minutes of the meeting of Hollingbourne Parish Council
held on Monday, 12th May 2014 in the Cardwell Pavilion
commencing at 7.30pm
Present: Mr M Bedwell (Chairman) Mr D Ardley
Mr A Ward (Vice-Chairman) Mr A Bennett
Mr J Cobbett Mr P Waite
and Mrs V Smith, Parish Clerk
In attendance Four members of the public
Apologies for absence Dr S Bauer (illness)
Mr L Vallins (on vacation)
Mrs D Parvin (previous obligation)
Mrs J Whittle (apologies for absence emailed)
2. Declarations and Requests
Declaration of Changes to the Register of Interests – none
Declaration of Interest in items on the Agenda – Mr Adam Ward, regarding the planning permission MA/14/0475 – 14 detached houses opposite 103 Eyhorne Street, Hollingbourne
Requests for Dispensations – none
Approval of minutes of last meeting (Circulated prior to meeting)
It was resolved that the minutes were a true and accurate record of the meeting
4. Matters Arising (not covered elsewhere on the agenda)
A local farmer, Mr Mike Attwood, who invited the Parish Council to look at the orchids on his land, and archaeological findings, has advised us that the orchids have not yet flowered. Hopefully, they will be present in June, and the first or second Monday of the month may be good dates to consider. This invitation is for Parish Council members only at present. Mr J Cobbett stated that he did not feel that this limited invitation was fair. In addition, since the farmer (or his brother) owns the land which included the off-road bike courses which are the subject of complaints from local residents, he did not feel comfortable in accepting an invitation on this occasion. Mr Bedwell stated that due to the location and the logistics for transporting the visitors to the site, it was considered impractical to open the invitation further.
In relation to the income generated by the Cardwell Pavilion, Mr M Bedwell informed the Councillors that he had been approached with the thought of running an after school club at the Pavilion. This would be for 32 weeks of the year, school term time. The interested party has been given charges, and hopefully this idea will come to fruition. It was felt that it would be financially beneficial for the running of the Cardwell.
With regards to the street lighting. Mr D Ardley informed us that he had not yet drafted a letter to the KCC with reference to their statutory obligation to provide funding, but this is in hand.
Mr A Bennett felt concerned that Ms E Lawrence, when leaving her post as the Parish Clerk, was not presented with any substantial gift. Mr M Bedwell informed the Councillors that the farewell present at the April meeting had been made by the present Clerk and further thanks would be transmitted to her.
The Parish Council needs to obtain new public liability insurance quotations, and Mr M Bedwell presented the Clerk with details of an offer from Zurich Insurance. This will be considered at the time of renewal.
Mrs Victoria Wallace is leaving the Leeds Castle to go the War Graves Commission. She has been working at the Castle for ten years, and in that time has been very supportive to our Parish Council. Mr Bedwell proposed that the Council should send her a letter thanking her for her help over the years with best wishes for the future. Action: The Clerk.
With regard to the Council’s Precept it was noted that Parish Councils need not hold a village referendum from 2015/6 onwards if they propose to increase the precept by less than 2%. It was noted that the Precept had been fixed for 2014/5 but a referendum may be needed for 2015/6 if the question of funding for the village street lighting is not resolved.
Street Lighting Finances
Mr J Cobbett said that the Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) was retaining £2,127 plus VAT which could have funded the village street lighting in 2013/4. It was noted that there has been no further action from MBC Councillor Daphne Parvin on the matter. Ms Zena Cooke at the MBC has advised Mr Cobbett that she feels that the Parish Council has accepted that the money will not be paid although all of the necessary supporting information was supplied to MBC in January 2013. Mr M Bedwell appreciated the patience that Mr J Cobbett has in this matter. Mr J Cobbett has suggested judicial review and arbitration, but the MBC has refused these proposals.
Parks Report Nothing to report.
Crime Report (belated report – sent by email)
PSCO Dave Rowley informed us that there had been a total of eight reported crimes for the period of 1st April – 11th May 2014. These were seven accounts of making off without payment at the Junction 8 Services, and the theft of a motor vehicle at Bank Cottages.
The company that owns Junction 8 Petrol Station has been talking to the police with regard as to how they may be able to reduce the number of petrol thefts. PSCO Rowley will check with the officer in charge of this and report back to us with his findings. As noted from the Crime Report, there was only one crime reported in the village itself.
There were three calls received by the Police regarding nuisance vehicles on Greenway Court Road.
The Clerk thanked the Councillors for their constant help and support in the recent weeks.
The Parish Councillors were advised that there is a Public Planning Notice near Hospital Lane with regards to works in this area. The Parish Council has not been advised of this planning permission request, and this is very concerning. The Clerk will write to MBC, and ask for it to be deferred. Action: The Clerk.
MA/14/0475 – Land Adjacent to 103 Eyhorne Street, Hollingbourne, ME17 1TX
For the erection of fourteen detached houses, inclusive of garaging/car barns and open amenity land adjacent to the northern boundary:
Mr G Norton and Mr B Chamberlain represented the Wealden Group Limited, who are wanting to build the houses. They stated their reasons for building the houses, and the obligations that they had for providing sewerage and drainage for the buildings and their offer supply the KCC £33,000 for necessary infrastructure provision via a Section 106 agreement. The Parish Councillors were informed that the properties would be 4/5 bedroom, and sell for £750,000 +.
Mr J Cobbett proposed that the Parish Council objected to the development and stressed his concern over the pressure these extra properties would put on the school, traffic, public services, sewerage and drainage provision, drinking water, the train services and local infrastructure. Mr J Cobbett also informed us that the KCC does not MBC’s plans to build 19600 new homes in the Borough by 2031.
Mr A Bennett highlighted that the Parish Council had drawn MBC’s attention to possibly suitable land near the railway station for a small number of affordable homes. However the Wealden Homes plan is not on this land and is outside of the village envelope. Mr A Ward reported that he had found a refused planning application from 2006 which included a proposal to build a house opposite Godfrey House. .
Mr M Bedwell commented that we need affordable housing and that these properties are not for the village’s best interest as we already have plenty of large houses in the £750,000+ price range. Mr A Ward added that this is a ‘cluster development’ unlike the rest of the style of properties in that area. It is a special landscape area, in front of an exceptionally beautiful property in the village and is totally inappropriate. Mr A Ward also pointed out that the issue of land allocation is only provisional and that Mr A Bennett had genuinely suggested a far better site. Mr P Waite supports the view that we need more families in the village in order to balance demographics although this might put more pressure on the school which is oversubscribed with limited space for expansion.
Mr A Bennett suggested that if this item should go to a full MBC Planning Committee, that the Parish Council should send a representative to speak.
Mr J Cobbett proposed to object to the building of the houses and Mr A Bennett seconded the vote. Mr A Ward could not vote due to his declaration of interest in this matter, but all other Councillors voted to support the objection.
MA/14/0475 Wish to object
Land adjacent to 103 Eyhorne Street, Hollingbourne –
Erection of fourteen detached houses, inclusive of garaging/car barns.
MA/14/0603 Do not wish to object
Roadchef Motorways Ltd, M20 Junction 8, Maidstone
Installation of one electric vehicle quick charging point in main car park area.
11. Environmental Report
a. Mr Michael Baker, a member of the public who resides at Allington Farm, Pilgrims Way, drew the Council’s attention to the various problems experienced along the byway beside his property. There are problems regarding drainage and off road bikes. It was also noted that there are various anti-social, sexual activities taking place along the byway in the early hours, and evidence of this had been found. Mr Baker has contacted the relevant authorities, and is still awaiting their comments. (Please see a continuation to this item in the Kent County Councillor’s report).
b. Mr A Ward informed us that he had received complaints from the resident regarding the state of Musket Lane footpath and the roads through Hollingbourne – they were ‘tatty’ with faded road markings. Mr D Ardley commented that it looks like the roads are going to be re-patched as areas had been painted on them for attention. An annual programme of planned maintenance and improvements 2014/15 was circulated amongst the Councillors which is also on the Hollingbourne village website. Mrs J Whittle is liaising between the KCC and the Parish Council regarding road repairs.
c. Mr A Bennett had received a complaint regarding ‘firing’ noises, which were very noticeable in the open land of Hadley Gardens and Culpepper Close. Mr Terry O’Brien at MBC had advised Mr Bennett that it is an agricultural bird scarer. If it continues to concern the public they should file a complaint with the MBC. Mr A Bennett will advise the public member with this information.
County Councillor’s Report (belated report – sent by email)
Mrs J Whittle is pursuing Kent Highways for a response on the issues raised by Mr J Cobbett regarding the resurfacing of roads in Hollingbourne and Hucking.
With regards to the byway from Allington Farm, Pilgrims Way, and Colyers Wents, Hucking, Mrs J Whittle has been in contact with Mr David Munn of Kent Highways, who is due to meet with a contractor on the 19th May with a view to taking forward remedial drainage work on Mr Nick Chantler’s land (with his approval) that should hopefully resolve the problems due to excess water. Mr David Munn has also met with Mr Geoff Crabtree of Bicknor Park, who is acting as agent for a number of landowners affected by several byways in this area, who have asked for them to be managed or closed. Mrs J Whittle has asked to be kept advised and will has promised to keep the Parish Council informed of developments..
Borough Councillor’s Report None received.
14. Fete Report
The Fete is at presently short on stalls. The 13th June has been set to mark out the lines on the Lance Memorial field. Mr M Bedwell is not sure whether he will be able to take annual leave from his work on this day. Mr A Ward asked whether the line marking could be carried out over a few evenings instead. Mr M Bedwell has asked the contractors to cut the grass the week before the Fete and then on the Wednesday preceding the Fete, but he can request that they cut the grass just before the line marking. Mr J Cobbett informed the Councillors that the next Fete meeting will be on the 19 May 2014 at 8pm in the Dirty Habit when it is hoped that the arrangements can be finalised.
Off Road Motorcyclists and Quad Bikers
It was reported that the situation is that sometimes residents are reluctant to go out of their houses because of the disturbance from the motorbikes. They are very noisy and can be heard as far as Leeds village. Jane and Mark at Target Cottage are greatly affected and have contacted the MBC, but at yet have not received a satisfactory response. Mr J Cobbett stated that he was approached by Mrs Penny Johnstone who explained that the previous weekend was the fifth time this year that she has experienced difficulties with local off road motorbikes. Mr J Cobbett subsequently contacted the Chief Executive, Ms Alison Broom, with regards to this problem and the matter is now receiving attention by the Enforcement Department.
Mr A Bennett stated that the off road motorbike organisers are allowed to hold 14 events a year. However, it is necessary that the land is kept in the original condition and not redeveloped with permanent earthworks and other changes such as the removal of trees.
In addition, there is concern that the club have inadvertently damaged orchid pasture and that human waste could be access to the stream. The stream acts as a habitat to newts, and this issue has in the past prevented the local football club from gaining planning permission. Mr J Cobbett feels that until this matter is resolved we must avoid unnecessary liaison with the owners of the land.
Twinning with Templeuve
Mr J Cobbett advised us that fifteen villagers are going to Templeuve at the weekend. It will be very enjoyable with a boules lessons, a cabaret, a dinner and walking tour of the town planned for them. There is also a golf match organised for the end of June 2014, and the Templeuve Zumba dancers will be at the Hollingbourne Fete.
Mr D Ardley asks whether there will be a Twinning Committee to manage the joining between the villages. Mr J Cobbett suggested that the matter be further considered after the weekend visit to Templeuve.
Financial Report (Mr J Cobbett)
It was noted that a Public Interest Report was received in February from PKF Littlejohn LLP, on behalf of the Audit Commission with regard to the 2012/3 Annual Accounts because of shortcomings with the filed financial return.
It was noted that accounts for the year ended March every year should be prepared and audited and for the year ended 31st March 2014 should be filed by 16th June. It was noted that the financial returns for 2011/2 and 2012/3 were not audited or presented to the Council for approval and that Public Interest Reports on the Council’s accounts had been placed in the public domain by PKF Littlejohn PLC on behalf of the Audit Commission. The Parish Council set up a task force in April to prepare the 2013/4 report and has met three times. A cash book has been instituted but progress has been hampered by a lack of records which is slowly being remedied. The income for the year income is yet to be confirmed. It was noted that Mr Peter Lee FCA, who members believed was acting as internal auditor, has informed the Council that he has not acted 2009/2010. Mr P Lee has expressed concerns over the lack of ‘cash books’, and minute reports.
With regard to VAT refunds Mr A Ward is pursuing the matter with the intention of reclaiming VAT paid.
It was noted that the Council’s financial position is not as bad as previously believed with a 2013/4 cash outflow of £1,709 which would have been positive if MBC had paid the money for street-lighting expected. Additionally if all of the monies had been received through the hire of Cardwell Pavilion there would have even more surplus. There is still some confusion over monies paid in by the Football Club and Mr M Bedwell is in the process of investigating this matter.
Mr A Ward asked how often the long-term tenants of the Cardwell Pavilion are invoiced. At present it is on an annual basis, but it was felt that it would be better on a ‘term time’ basis instead.
Mrs V Smith, Parish Clerk requested that she be added to the bank mandate as being an authorised signatory, etc. A resolution was made, and all the Councillors agreed that this would be implemented.
It was noted that the Council is close to getting the 2013/4 draft accounts prepared and that they would be audited by Mr Lee. It was also resolved that in future that the Council’s accounts should be more transparent and that the public inspection arrangements would be properly advertised.
Items for Information
Mr A Bennett commented on the latest major, brown tourist sign, on the A20, for the ‘Sugar Loaves’ Public House. The words ‘Sugar Loaves’ have been untidily scratched out, and it looks very unprofessional. Upon investigation it was an unauthorised sign although it was well done. The Landlord of the Sugar Loaves has been asked whether he would like to apply through the KCC for a proper sign, but he has does not want to at present. He will however, tidy up the sign.
Mr A Bennett furnished the Clerk with contact details for Margaret Blackwell, Highways Steward, Maidstone Highways and Transportation.
Date of next meeting Monday, 9th June 2014
Signed as a true record: Chairman: