Ordinary Meeting Minutes 3/08/2015



Minutes of the Ordinary Meeting of the Parish Council held on 3 August 2015 at 7.45 pm

in Penshurst Village Hall


1.         PRESENT:    Cllrs A Campbell (Chairman), J Cass, J Broadhead, S Frederick, J Horsford, B Townsend,


In attendance:   SDCllr P Cooke, Mr R Sellings (Speedwatch), Mr P Johnson (Neighbourhood Watch) 


2.         APOLOGIES:   Cllrs R Rees, I Carson, J O’Shea, KCCllr C Pearman 


3.         MINUTES OF MEETING HELD ON 6 July 2015, having been circulated, were approved and signed by the Chairman.


4.         MATTERS ARISING: 


a.    Poundsbridge Church:    A problem with the road condition in the area of the Poundsbridge Church had been  reported.  Cllr Campbell confirmed the spring had caused problems, the water/mud filled ditch now needed clearing to reinstate a culvert.  The bollards should be placed on the ditch side to protect the culvert and prevent parking in that area which was exacerbating the damage, there had previously been space for three cars alongside the wall which would be available again if the bollards were re-sited and the vegetation currently surrounding them removed.   It was noted that many of the potholes in Coopers Lane had been addressed.      Cllr Carson to check with church members for any further information.   


b.    Colliersland Bridge:   Road breaking away past last entrance to field, Cllr Horsford checking area by sign by bridge on route to Penshurst.


c.    30 MPH Signs:  Entering Fordcombe village, area cut back by Cllr Horsford.


d.    Richard Heaps, Traffic Engineer – Traffic Schemes & Member Highway Fund:   Notification regarding feasibility of putting in a priority system at Long Bridge plus other measures to assist in slowing speed of traffic along B2188 Fordcombe Road, Penshurst.   Clerk to ask estate to arrange for vegetation surrounding fenced area to be cut hard back plus contact Highways to arrange for fence to be repaired/replaced as necessary.   Area of road breaking away to be reported.


OPEN SESSION          


It was unanimously agreed that the Open Session be extended to 20 minutes if required.


Fordcombe Village Hall:   Presentation by John Morrison

Mr Morrison advised those present that the hall had been created by public subscription in 1920/21, the construction was predominantly of wood with plastic cladding.   Major refurbishment, including disabled toilet facilities, was undertaken 10-15 years previously to bring it up to current standards, however it was felt it was now coming to the end of its useful life.  

It was currently being sustained by the village hall committee, efforts are being made by a volunteer action group who were keen to help raise money to provide a replacement.   It was important to provide a venue for internal and external organisations to use plus the Cricket Club who were involved for 24 weeks of the year.   It was thought that it would require 10 years to replace the hall with a facility to cover all activities and thereby maintain itself.

Initially the action group would approach SDC with their proposals, they were aware that there would be problems and consequently compromise needed with provision of parking and compliance with current rules and regulations.  Mr Morrison hoped they would be able to meet with a senior planning officer and the conservation officer to discuss the project, he also wished to provide information on the scheme for the village to gain their support in the venture.

Ownership of the Village Hall had now been passed to the official custodian at the Charities Commission and the land was being registered.   Cllr Cass raised the issue of his and Cllr Townsend’s interest in the project as PC representatives on the Village Hall committee, the Chairman said this would need to be addressed at such time as any vote would be required at planning stages.

Mr Morrison stated that costs to replace the building may be as much as £500K, it was anticipated that the existing building would be demolished and a new unit would replace it, this would provide a 20% saving relating to VAT.   He praised the young, enthusiastic group who now want to take this forward and asked for the support of the Parish Council.

The members of the PC confirmed they were, in principle, supportive of the project.  


Clerk to provide information on submitting a request for funding towards the Penshurst Cricket Club project.

Direction sign to Bidborough opposite The Forge has missing number, clerk to report.

Road sign near duck pond at Long Bridge overgrown, clerk to report.

Laundry Corner, road collapsing house side, clerk to report

Rubbish Bins – Leicester Square:   Cllr Campbell to check with volunteer regarding completion of work.


6.         PLANNING Applications:


SE/15/01994/LDC:   Harden Barn, The Vineyard, Grove Road, Penshurst: 

LDC sought to certify the lawful implementation of planning permission SE/08/02731/FUL, through the construction of and use of the access road. It is sought to confirm that the access was granted retrospective consent through the discharge of condition 6 of that planning permission and the permission was therefore implemented on the granting of that consent.   The PC believe that the granting of a Lawful Development Certificate is a legal and planning matter on which they do not have the technical expertise to comment, and as such can neither support or oppose the application    

SE/15/01735:   Chafford Park Farm, Chafford Lane, Fordcombe:  Installation of rear dormers to roof and removal of rear rooflights.  Installation of conservation rooflights to inner main roof slopes.  New windows at second floor level to west and east elevations, new soil and vent pipes, internal alterations.  Structural repairs to roof and renovation.     PC Support

SE/15/01951:   1 Hill Corner, Spring Hill, Fordcombe:   Erection of a two storey rear extension, alterations.

SE/15/01984:   Thimble Hall Cottage, Fordcombe Road, Penshust: 

Erection of a single storey side extension to east elevation and single storey side extension.   PC Support


Site Visits:   It was noted previous planning teams had visited all sites as required but 3 or 4 had been missed recently.  It was important to visit sites but if this had not been possible recently decisions had been taken based on the paperwork provided.   In future if the PC had been unable to arrange a visit this would be noted.



15/01679: Grove Road, Penshurst. Application for Premises License under Licensing Act 2003 from Mr Peter Cornwell for Treetops.      Granted subject to mandatory conditions and additional conditions contained in the notice of determination, Cllr Campbell provided information on full list of conditions.   It was noted that SDC would be responsible for ensuring conditions were complied with should complaints be registered by parishioners.

Request received from Mr Ross Blake regarding holding a meeting with the PC to provide information regarding the proposed activities at Tree Tops (PORC) for parishioners.

Clerk and Chairman advised it was not advisable for the PC to become involved in a meeting with the owners of Tree Tops as this may be taken as support for any future plans they may have for the site.   The PC cannot be seen to support in any way a business as this would impact on the situation in the event that further planning applications, enforcement action etc. be  undertaken.   Cllr Campbell was aware that a number of councillors had concerns regarding the proposed activities at the site and therefore any members attending would do so as private individuals.   The clerk would not attend and the meeting and it would therefore not be minuted by the PC.   It was confirmed that should activities/events in addition to those currently approved under the licence be planned further planning permission and/or building/fire regulations would be required.

Members felt it would be a good idea for the owners to hold the meeting at the Tree Tops site in order that parishioners were able to see firsthand the practicalities of their plans and delay the meeting until September to ensure the holiday season was over.



SE/15/01565:  12 St Peter’s Row, Fordcombe:   Proposed loft conversion.    GRANTED

SE/14/03773:  The Bungalow, Daneby Hall, The Lane, Fordcombe:  Retrospective change of us of part of an existing building to a residential dwelling, with the remainder of the building used for purposes incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling.   GRANTED

SE/15/01592:  Pilgrims, The Lane, Fordcombe:   Proposed erection of rear extension and chimney stack.  External and Internal alterations. Garage alterations including conversion of first floor to habitable space and extension of attached terrace.   GRANTED

SE/15/01602: 27 St Peter’s Row, Fordcombe:   Erection of single storey side extension.  GRANTED

SE/15/01630: Rogues Hill House, Rogues Hill, Penshurst:  Proposed new vehicular access with new gates.  GRANTED


Tree Surgery:

SE/15/02170:  Thimble Hall Cottage, Fordcombe Road, Penshurst:  Various works to trees: Ash, Silver birch, 

Beech, Rowan, Sycamore, Conifer, Red Oak,

SE/15/02231:  3 The Glebe, Penshurst:  Various works to trees: Oak, Red Oak, Ash and Lime

SE/15/02262:  Oak House, High Street, Penshurst:  Mature Horse chestnut tree on front lawn area near roadside: prune to lift crown evenly to approximately 3.5-4m to minimise children climbing and damaging tree.



SE/15/01344:  Garden Cottage, Walters Green Road, Penshurst:  Proposed conservatory.   

7.         REPORTS:      


a.    Kent County Councillor Clive Pearman:  The starting point for this month’s report has to be the findings of the Airport’s Commission which were published on the 1st of the month.  I will not go into any great detail on the report’s findings, or perhaps it is more appropriate to say recommendations, given that the Town and Parish Councils in the division have been living with ‘all such matters aviation’ in the context of the Airports Commission consultative arrangements for many months.  That the Commission came out clearly in favour of another runway at Heathrow and not Gatwick, was what we had all been working towards; that this finding is merely a recommendation, and that it is now for the Government to decide how and when, and even if, to progress the recommendation, means that none of us can let up in our efforts to prevent that recommendation from being overturned, and for the next runway to be built at Gatwick.


The media hype surrounding the publication of the report has not helped, focusing as it has on the apparent ‘political contest’ between the Prime Minister and the claimed ‘big hitters’ in the Conservative Party who are collectively opposed to the next runway being built at Heathrow.  As we have listened to all of this hype I am sure that I have not been alone in asking myself questions about the machinations of the political world versus the objectivity of the Commission’s work and outcome, and of the consequences of the siting of a new runway on local rural areas and populations, on ‘real’ people whose lives are already being devastated by Gatwick’s apparently arbitrary decisions to change flight paths.  And why has the media hype not been remotely balanced by taking into account, even in passing, the collective views of our Members of Parliament who are all opposed to a second runway at Gatwick?  This, in turn, has raised serious questions about the much and self-proclaimed impartiality and balanced reporting of current affairs by the BBC.  Balanced?  Impartial?  At best, the jury is still out on these aspects of the BBCs self-proclaimed righteousness.


Continuing on the aviation theme, the meeting called for the evening of Friday, the 17th July, at the Eden Centre in Edenbridge, ostensibly to discuss ‘the way forward’ with regard to aviation matters following the publication of the Airports Commission’s findings highlighted one important characteristic which those of us who have been challenging Gatwick Airport for the best part of five years are only too well aware of, and that is apathy!  Accepting that there might have been some issues with regard to the transmission of invitations to the event, the small number of attendees, combined with the absence of senior political figures from the district, borough and county tiers of our local authority, and our MPs, gives real cause for concern.  Their absence confirms, yet again, that any impetus in addressing our local aviation issues will, as in the recent past, have to come from the town and parish councils working in harmony with the websites, the various ‘pressure groups’, and our local and very erudite letter-writers.


Pending Government’s announcement on its preferred option for increasing aviation capacity in the south east, this time lapse has given us a few valuable weeks during which to move forward with the next stage of the aviation strategy, namely to create an independent and validated set of monitoring processes by which to measure aircraft noise and emission levels across the three most seriously affected areas of West Kent covered by Sevenoaks District Council, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.  The County Council will endeavour to work with and help co-ordinate the environmental responsibilities of these three councils, underpinned by a common aviation policy in this respect, so as to be able to safeguard the health and welfare of our local populations, particularly young children in pre and primary school education, by independently monitoring the key pollution characteristics caused by aircraft landing or departing from Gatwick Airport from the east, thereby enabling us to identify, raise and seek remedy and retribution, on behalf of our communities, where pollution transgressions arise.  This will be a marked improvement from that of having to rely on Gatwick Airport’s own monitoring processes and findings, or of those ‘tame’ organisations which allegedly assist Gatwick in this respect.


This work, which should have been undertaken years ago but, regrettably, has not been, again testifies to, at best, apathy and, at worst, ignorance of the true nature of the adverse effects caused by aircraft using Gatwick Airport.  If it should have been undertaken years ago, then it becomes essential to undertake it now, given that the possibility of a second runway at Gatwick, with considerably added pollution aspects, will remain for some time yet.  This will not be an easy piece of work to complete, given all of the sensitivities which exist, but if we do not at least start that process now, the need for such monitoring will remain and, as such, be a travesty to those councils which, for whatever reason, fail to either accept or endorse this particular need in the genuine interests of the health and welfare of their respective communities.  Consultations will be going forward this next week, but patience and understanding will be the watchwords for the completion of this aspect of the aviation strategy.


On a related point, KCC’s Environmental Strategy is now ‘out for consultation’ pending refinements prior to its adoption later this autumn.  As I have already said in an email which has been circulated to all Kent members of the High Weald Councils Aviation Action Group (HWCAAG), the proposed strategy does not mention anything to do with the negative impact of aircraft using Gatwick Airport on the communities in West Kent.  That there is reference to pollution as a generic subject does not obviate the need for the aviation aspects to be particularly mentioned as there is a clearly-identifiable cause against which to attribute any transgressions.  That this strategy has already been in existence for a few years without any specific mention of these negative impacts again testifies to ignorance of the true nature of the subject and of its impact on the western half of the county.  This monthly report therefore comes with a genuine request that all councillors, their families and all members of the public, as individuals, make such appropriate comments and observations on the omission of these aviation aspects in this proposed strategy, which can be accessed via www.kent.gov.uk/kesconsultation   Such feedback will then make my job that much easier when the strategy eventually comes before the Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee for ratification later in the year.


As most of the past month has been consumed by KCC’s response to ‘Operation Stack’, which has required staff to be re-assigned to the many aspects of this response to Cross-Channel events, there seems to have been little else happening which has been of real importance to us here, in West Kent.  School places have been assigned and travel passes applied for and granted without, it would appear, hardly any challenges from our respective communities.  A few instances of such challenges were brought to my attention by family members but quick telephone calls achieved a common sense reversal of the original decision and, therefore, in favour of the families.


Continuing on the education theme, I met with Ian Watts, the Area Education Officer for West Kent on the 27th July, to monitor progress on meeting the additional primary school accommodation needs of Edenbridge, Four Elms and Leigh primary schools in particular.  I am happy to say that progress is being made on all fronts with regards to these three schools, though perhaps not as speedily or as straightforward as people might wish, but I am sure that everything possible is being done to get the additional accommodation in place.


The original street lighting strategy of turning off lights where it was judged unnecessary is currently under review, with the review and any lessons to be learned being completed before the end of this year.  The feedback from this review will then be incorporated into the consultative phase of the next aspect of the street lighting strategy – the implementation of LED lighting across the county.  The LED lighting, combined with its Central Management System, will allow ‘fine tuning’ of the degree of illumination of the each street light, and of the individual turning ‘on’ and ‘off’, and with considerable cost savings and much less pollution.  To incorporate the LED components into every street light which is to remain will, however, take at least two, possibly three years, but as the new technology comes with a 20 year guarantee, with the contractor bearing the cost of any replacement need during this period, this would appear to be a very good investment for the county.


And on that note I think that I have covered those few matters which have occurred at county level and which are of relevance to the parishes in this part of Kent.  As we move in to August and the peak holiday period, I doubt that there will be much, if anything, to report on at the end of this month.  Therefore, and following on from last year, my next monthly up-date will be at the end of September and incorporate August at the same time.  Should anything of significance happen during this current month, then I will communicate it immediately to the Parish Clerks.


b.    Sevenoaks District Councillor Paddy Cooke:   Cllr Cooke confirmed he had discussed the Pilgrims application with the officer and it had been found to be over the 50%, members acknowledge this.

Changes in the Enforcement Policy meant these now went to the Ward Member then the delegated officer prior to the members.   This meant that recently enforcement orders had been placed on both an applicant and an objector.

Direct & Trading Advisory Committee:    Cllr Cooke advised this had been formed to undertake policy initiation and development, consider matters referred to it by the Portfolio Holder; carry out specific research and development projects requested by Cabinet or Audit Committee and submit recommendations to Cabinet.  It would develop and approve its annual work plan ensuring efficient use of time; provide a report to each meeting outling activities since previous meeting and any decisions intended in the following three months; recommend and keep under review, governance arrangements for prioritisation of Community Infrastructure Levy. 


c.    KALC:   Meeting scheduled for September


d.    Alms Houses:   No report


e.   Neighbourhood Watch:    Mr Johnson reported that there was no mention of crime in either Penshurst or Fordcombe between 7 – 31 July from the police or residents.   Warnings had been given regarding the risk of Identity Crime, Royal Mail advise those moving home to have their mail redirected to their new homes.   Citizens Advice investigations revealed 34,151 confirmed cases of identity fraud in the first quarter of 2015, a 27% increase for the same period in 2014.  There had been two product recalls for a fire blanket (Kidde Safety Europe Ltd) branded either as Kidde or Lifesaver; Kitemark Licence No. 35021;  a security window handle, Ref No 95879 sold at Lidl has been recalled as they do not work effectively, further information is available from Customer Service on 03704441234.



f.    Speedwatch:    The Speedwatch team had continued with their checks in July and over six hours logged 136 observations recorded 29 x second offenders; 1 x third time and 7 excessive speeders ie 50% above the speed limit.      


g.   Gatwick Airport:  Minutes of previous meeting circulated to members.   A leaflet had been circulated to members for circulation to member town and parish councils, costs would be covered by current HWCAAG funds.   Louise (HWCAAG Clerk) had requested numbers required for each parish, it was suggested that these could be circulated with the parish magazines or placed in local shops/pubs etc.    Cllr Cooke advised he had attended the recent meeting but Cllrs Fleming, Piper of SDC and Paul Carter of KCC did not attend.    TWBC and SDC were being encouraged to work towards an Aviation Policy.


h.   Coach Road Bridge:        Mr Johnson had checked the bridge and during the past month only 1 mm of movement had been detected on the upstream parapet wall, this compared with 5mm during the previous month.    A study of the longitudinal cracks in the surface of the road northwards from the bridge show they are much wider along the length of the wall than beyond the wall.   Cracks in the road commence about 2’ from the transverse tie bars connecting the upstream and downstream walls and for about 4’ the width of the crack is 15mm, reducing rapidly beyond the location of the upstream parapet wall affected by movement.  It would appear that the wall is causing the cracks in the road rather than the embankment along the edge of the field clear of the bridge.   Clerk confirmed the problems had been reported to the PROW officer and they had inspected the area and were monitoring it.


8.         HIGHWAYS:  


Kerbstone – Junction Penshurst Road/High Street:  Highlighting of kerb edge by highways still awaited.

Pothole:  Towards Bidborough between Meadow Bank and Ashour.   Issue addressed.

150197:   Culverts/Ditches:  Clearance undertaken adjacent to Marlpit Cottages/Poundsbridge junction after inspection undertaken 20 March 2015.   Further clearance work requested by clerk by Alms Houses, work indicated as having been completed on website however, the site was now silted with weeds growing on it.

136309:  Drain:   Drain unblocked but still sunken, reported again by PC and followed up by resident, work completed.

152173:  Salt Bin – Smarts Hill junction.    Website indicated condition of salt bin did not meet criteria for replacement, photographs of unit forwarded to Kent Highways requesting level of damage required before unit could be replaced, response received from Allan Gibbons (Highways Steward) programme of replacement/refilling of bins commences October, unit will be replace at that time.

Hawthorn:  Obscuring sightlines approaching river bridge at Rogues Hill.   Clerk had approached Ben Thomas (Penshurst Place) regarding removal of hawthorn, no objection was raised by Mr Thomas therefore clerk contacted Tree Officer at SDC to request he inspect and confirm whether tree could be removed/reduced, confirmation of action allowed awaited.

B2188 Saints Hill, Penshurst:  Notification received that KCC will be treating the surface of the B2188 between its junction with New Road and Colliersland Bridge on 30 July for approximately two days between 7am and 7pm.

Mr Johnson reported problems with traffic lights used during road works, recently units having been left at red on both ends for many hours at Long Bridge, Rogues Hill and New Road.

Potholes Poundsbrige – Coopers Lane:   Confirmation of pothole repairs completed in top area, other end to be checked.    


9.         FINANCE:


The following accounts were presented and unanimously approved for payment:


Mr I Streeter                                                                              Lengthsman                               £89.00

Fordcombe Village Hall                                                               Hall Hire                                    £21.00

Play Place                                                                                  Family Fun Day                          £381.00

Mr J O’Shea                                                                               Recorder                                   £113.99

Parishioner                                                                                Reimbursement for damage        £996.00

SDC                                                                                          Bulk Freighter                            £177.60

RIP                                                                                           Dog Waste Removal                   £84.00


Clerk had circulated information regarding the reimbursement for damage, Chairman and clerk explained details of problem.


a.         Allotments:   Complaint received regarding condition of a number of the allotments, clerk to liaise with Chairman regarding action against allotment holders who were not maintaining their plots.


10.       CORRESPONDENCE:     


a.         Fordcombe Church:  Contractor sought to provide estimate/quotation for work to pathways.   (Alternative quotes sought by clerk from S W Harding, Trackers Plant, Ailles & Co., A C Groundwork; Marchants), only one quote received for part of the work.   Clerk was awaiting one further reply, decision to be made at September meeting.


b.         Retreat Charity:   Notification from Mrs J Hill that Sarah Crookenden is stepping down from being Chair of the Charity and the proposal was that Christine Rose and Mrs Hill share Chairmanship jointly for the present.   Trustees request PC recommend Jenny Storey as the new Trustee and thereby endorse her appointment.   The Charity was set up in 1922 and the PC were responsible for appointing Trustees.   The PC was not in receipt of recent returns, clerk was therefore asked to contact the Trustee for this information prior to the PC endorsing the appointment of the new Trustee.


c.       Tom Tugendhat MP:   Advice that he had joined the Gatwick Co-ordination Group (GCG) and was seeking a meeting between Gatwick Airport, NATS and the CAA.  




a.         Fordcombe Village Green:   Broken post to be replaced, clerk to action.


b.         Verge Mowing:   Members were pleased with the standard of verge mowing undertaken by the PC contractor.


c.          Letter to SDC:   Cllr Cass reported that four councillors had forwarded a letter of complaint to SDC regarding votes taken at a recent Extraordinary PC Meeting, emailing a copy to the other members of the PC the morning after the July meeting.   Cllr Cass suggested that, for the sake of clarity, a further vote be held at the September meeting.  



Meeting concluded at 9.22 pm                                                                       Next Meeting 9 September 2015                                                                                                                                    Fordcombe Village Hall