PENSHURST PARISH COUNCIL
Minutes of the Ordinary Meeting of Penshurst Parish Council held on Monday 7 July 2014 at 7.30 pm in Fordcombe Village Hall
1. PRESENT: Cllrs Mrs D Broad (Chairman), A Campbell, I Carson, S Frederick, J Horsford, J O’Shea, B Townsend
In Attendance: SDCllr P Cooke, Michael Knowles (Gatwick Airport), Peter Johnson (Almshouses/Neighbourhood Watch), Rob Sellings (Swaylands/Speedwatch) Mr L Roberts, SDC Legal Services Manager.
APOLOGIES: Cllrs J Cass, J Broadhead, KCCllr C Pearman.
2. MINUTES OF MEETING HELD ON 2 June 2014: An Addendum (A) added by the Chairman (Cllr Cass) was disputed by Cllr Carson. It was agreed the minutes be signed but the final wording of the Addendum A be deferred for further consultation, Cllr Carson to discuss with Cllr Cass. Please also Addendum B prepared by Cllr Carson.
Declarations of interests in agenda items
If a Member has a disclosable pecuniary interest in an item of business this must be declared at the start of the meeting, unless dispensation has been granted. The member may not participate in any discussion, vote or discharge any function related to that business.
Non-pecuniary interests may be declared at this point if not already registered. Members with a non-pecuniary interest may speak on the subject if members of the public can do so but may not vote. NONE
3. OPEN SESSION
Fly Tipping: Clerk to report items left in Grove Road near Blowers Hill where footpath crosses road, debris includes bath (Issue Reported SDC Ref: 343310).
Path/Kerb Damage: Clerk to report damage to edging kerb (plastic), probably hit by vehicle leaving sharp edges and possible trip hazard. (Reported: 113139)
Layby: Complaints were received regarding litter generated by the mobile fish and chip vendor, clerk to action.
Complaint: A parishioner who had complained about the Chairman and clerk at the previous meeting stated his complaint had not been minuted in its entirety. Clerk advised PC minutes were only required to show decisions taken or actions required by the PC, only a resume of his comments had been listed. Parishioner was advised to make a written complaint.
SE/14/01643: Beggars View, Penshurst Road, Penshurst: Demolition of existing conservatory and erection of extension in replacement. PC Support
SE/14/01692: Westfield House, Nunnery Lane, Penshurst: Erection of two storey infill extension, single storey extensions and proposed new pool pavilion in garden. Assuming this does not exceed the 50% rule including previous erections of stables, garages and conservatory, then the PC support.
SE/14/01736: Swaylands School Farm, Poundsbridge Lane, Poundsbridge: Erection of single storey extensions to existing building, creation of habitable room within roof space, alterations to existing garage and realignment of driveway to reduce existing hardstanding area. Assuming that the outstanding two previous points have been resolved, the PC supports. Amended Application Form received 26.6.14.
SE/14/01842: The Gables, The Green, Fordcombe: Internal reconfiguration of house, demolish existing rear kitchen, bedroom and bathroom and construct new side/rear extension to form a replacement kitchen/dining area and a replacement bedroom and bathroom. Further information received to show amendment to include proposed garage and landscaping. PC Support
14/01945: Woodside Kennels, Penshurst Road, Penshurst: Demolition of existing outbuildings within residential curtilage of site, construction of new outbuilding and garden wall, along with amendments to soft landscaping. PC Support
SE/14/01073: Hartsland Farm, Walters Green Road, Penshurst: Proposed farm works dwelling, farm office and garage. Application Withdrawn
SE/14/01040: Bridge House, Rogues Hill, Penshurst: Demolition of existing single story rear extension and construction of new rear extension, new steps and iron railings. Alteration to fenestration. GRANTED
SE/14/00325: Alderwood House, Penshurst Road, Penshurst: Proposed car port. GRANTED
SE/14/00988: 1 Smarts Hill, Penshurst: Erection of single storey rear extension. REFUSED
Affordable Housing Judicial Review/Current Planning Permission awarded:
Cllr Cooke advised he had invited Mr Les Roberts – SDC Legal Services Manager to attend the meeting to provide information on the recent Judicial Review for parishioners, he confirmed he was also willing to answer questions from those present.
Mr Roberts reported that the JRs had succeeded against grant of planning applications and the decisions had therefore been quashed and returned to SDC for re-determination. SDC and WKHA were at present discussing the way forward.
The JR covered two grounds: Impact on listed buildings/conservation area, this had been as a result of a ruling on a northern case relating to Barnwell and the level of attention that must be paid to any impact on such areas during the decision making process, the application related to a wind farm and the impact on a country house. He noted that this had been raised by the claimants’ legal team two weeks before the case was heard in court. The second issue had been the site selection process, these had not been set out as well as they might have been.
The PC had been approached with regard to a 2nd Stage Survey being carried out, this would need to be timed to permit those on holiday adequate time to return their answers. SDC would also be carrying out a desk top exercise for other sites. WKHA did not feel there was any alternative/better site to Forge Field and had now secured funding until 2108 for their project. The Judge had considered the Becket site as a possible alternative but there was a ROW restriction over the garage forecourt which made this unsuitable. The full cost of the legal fees were not as yet known, Mr Roberts advised there was a cap of £70K on any sum payable to the complainants, he assessed SDC costs to be in the region of £15K. Part of the charges made to applicants included an allowance towards a fund used to address JRs which were not uncommon nowadays. Questions relating to the use of a land agent to identify sites and the exchange of PC land for private land for affordable housed was raised, Mr Roberts was unable to comment on planning issues as he was not a specialist in this area.
Becket Trust Representative: Matter deferred, Cllr Carson to liaise with Cllr Cooke regarding an invitation to Mr Langley to attend PC Meeting.
Affordable Housing – Bottle House Allotments:
Cllr O’Shea was asked to report on his investigations into the possibility of building affordable housing on the Bottle House Allotment site after approach to Planning Officer at SDC. The question of the availability of the BT site was raised. No further information was available at the meeting.
Cllr Carson was asked to report on his discussion with owner of adjacent land at Bottle House allotment site regarding possible purchase of small site to include in site for affordable housing. No further information was available at the meeting.
Affordable Housing Sites: Clerk advised Cllr Broadhead had requested she raise the issue of the PC paying the costs of appointing an independent land agent to identify sites in the parish which might be available for affordable housing. Cllr Mrs Broad had checked the proposal with an agent who had advised that the best option would be to appoint someone with a good knowledge of the villages otherwise the work would need to be carried out with Land Registry documents; approximate costs for the work were difficult to estimate but would probably be in the region of £10K. It was agreed this be deferred until the August meeting.
SDC/Housing Enabler: Clerk advised a request had been received from SDC/Housing Enabler to carry out a 2nd Stage Survey in relation to affordable housing in the parish, a sample copy of the survey plus PC letter used for circulation had been emailed to members for their information. This would be administered by the Housing Initiatives/Policy Team at SDC at no cost to the PC. The surveys would be posted to each parishioner and sufficient time would be afforded for return, taking into consideration the holiday period was approaching. Members were supportive of an update on the information relating to the number of families still needing accommodation. In view of the fact that the survey would be posted to everyone in the parish clerk suggested the PC request a letter be included in the documents to all parishioners providing the criteria covering sites for affordable housing and requesting everyone to advise the PC of any sites they felt suitable for consideration.
SE/14/01950: The Gables, The Green, Fordcombe: Crown lift, including removal of lower branches to a height of 3m-all works to be undertaken in accordance of BS3998. (Plan on SDC website indicates this is a Silver Birch)
SE/14/01642: Fordcombe Village Hall, Spring Hill, Fordcombe: Fell to ground level, group of Ash Trees. Cllr Townsend advised the ash trees were diseased. (Advice received that TPO placed on trees)
5. MATTERS ARISING:
a. Long Bridge Project: Options on dates for site meeting awaited for KCCllr Clive Pearman and PC Chairman John Cass to discuss details of project with KCC Officer (Donna Rixon)
b. Swaylands: SDC are continuing to work for compliance with the opening of the gardens under the Section 106 (1) (a, b, c or d). Swaylands residents have concerns with regard to vehicular access, parking and security of site if open under scheme. Resolution awaited on this issue. The possibility of using separate areas of the parish for parking was raised, it was noted the village coped with the influx of cars when events were being held in the village.
c. Gas Supply: Mr Furnell had completed an initial marked map and provided the information necessary and submitted same to Southern Gas for consideration. Clerk provided an expanded copy of a map. A further company was also being contacted with regard to this issue.
d. Rectory Hedge: Extract shown below from letter forwarded to Rev. Holme by diocese.
‘The position is, as I understand it, that the yew hedge is the landowner’s responsibility to look after. The landowner has a duty of care to take reasonable steps to prevent or reduce as far as possible, the risk of injury or damage that would be caused to anyone else. If the hedge is causing a problem to the road users then I would expect to receive a letter from the Kent County Council’s Highways Department recommending that we take action and arrange such remedial work as may be necessary. I know the Parish Council have raised their concerns with KCC but KCC does not appear to consider that there is a problem.
As far as I am aware the hedge does not reduce the width or block the view for vehicles using the road, there are no overhanging branches that would reduce the height or clearance of the road for tall vehicles and it does not obscure road signs or street lights.
As you are aware, the Diocese is carrying out annual maintenance of the historic yew hedge and to encourage growth with a view to thickening the hedge.
Although the Parish Council remains unhappy with the programme of work it does not appear to be perceived as a problem by KCC. Indeed, we are following KCC’s policy for maintaining its own roadside hedge namely a cut once a year during the autumn and not during the spring or summer months when birds are nesting.’
Clerk to contact Cllr Pearman regarding above problem.
e. Long Bridge 30 MPH Signs: Thanks registered to landowner for promptly clearing signs obscured by overgrown vegetation.
f. SDC Chairman: Jill Davidson’s office had approached Cllr Cass regarding a visit to the parish, clerk contacted Chairman’s office with following suggestions: Fordcombe: British Legion event being held on 11 October between 10 am and 4 pm and/or Penshurst: Christmas Fair opening on 5 December at noon. Confirmation received that Chairman will attend both events, further details to be provided nearer the time of events.
g. Fordcombe Churchyard Trees: The tree surgery required to remove branches overhanging the school area was carried out on 14 June.
a. Kent County Councillor Clive Pearman: The Transformation Project continues, other more local matters
include the number of additions and deletions to the Electoral Role which provided a fascinating insight into what has, and is, occurring across the division. From 2008/9, since the recession started to slow the economy, numbers leaving and arriving have been very similar however, the figures for May/June of this year show a marked variation in that trend with additions at 156 and deletions at 80. All parishes are affected, some more than others probably due to greater volumes of housing stock. Whether this an indication that the economy is recovering or larger numbers of housing units are coming on to the market is a matter for conjecture, future up-dates should prove interesting in terms of this trend.
The local projects I am working on with Parish Councils, having been approved during the last financial year have not been completed. As someone from the business world I find the procedure followed to be long and protracted and have yet to see a reason why this is so. It is to be hoped that the Transformation Project can resolve matters such as these, which they will need to do in order to deliver financial savings and improvements in services.
There has been a consistent complaint from all parishes that their local drainage systems were found to be inadequate over the winter months when catering for surface, rather than river, floodwater. What was drawn to my attention a few days ago was the Environment Agency’s website and its page which gave details of bore hole readings – the level of the water table at any given time. There are, unfortunately, only three such bore holes in this part of Kent, and only one of these, situated in Riverhead, is the closest to us and located in a comparable geophysical environment.
The water level in this bore hole in November/December of last year was two to three metres higher than what would ‘normally’ be expected at that time of year; in fact, the water table was almost at ground level with the obvious and inevitable implications – more rainfall was going to result in widespread flooding! That this information was known about but, apparently, not shared between the various agencies and emergency services, appears to have been a major failing of the process by which to plan for and thereby stand a chance of minimising, if not preventing, serious flooding of properties from occurring. Weather forecasting which identifies periods and possible amounts of rainfall, is only half the equation; the other half has everything to do with the capability or not of the land to absorb that rainfall in the first instance and then, in the second, to channel it into the streams and rivers. So, ‘yes’, the rainfall was exceptional over that winter period and, therefore, the rivers and streams were inundated and flooding occurred, but the serious consequences of this could, with greater foresight, have been anticipated weeks beforehand. Here, in Edenbridge, we will certainly be monitoring the bore hole readings as we go in to this coming autumn and winter so that the Emergency Planning Committee can prepare its response well in advance.
And as winter issues refused to go away ……………! Kent has been highlighted as one of the country’s top-performing pothole repairers and has recently been awarded an additional £6.3million from the government’s ‘Pothole Fund’, which gave the greatest sums to “model” authorities. In total, 148 councils applied for funding to tackle damage caused by the wettest winter on record. Kent received the second-highest figure outside London.
In addition to carrying out safety-related pothole repairs, once the weather became drier Kent launched its 2014 ‘Find & Fix’ campaign under which the repair crews tackled the weather damage with either square-cut pothole repairs, or larger areas of ‘patching’. Where possible, this investment was then protected by surface dressing the whole road later in the year to prevent the work being damaged by the next bad winter. This cost-effective approach to maintenance has enabled the budget to go further and has raised the standard of the roads. So far this year, Kent has fixed more than 21,000 potholes – at a cost of around £790,000 – and carried out patching repairs totalling £5.4million.
While the Department for Transport ‘Pothole Fund’ calculates a national average cost of repairing a pothole at £53, initiatives such as ‘Find & Fix’, an online reporting and tracking tool, and the commitment to make permanent, first-time fixes, has driven down the average cost of repairing a pothole in Kent to £37.
The Department for Transport released an allocation of the £168 million Pothole Fund explaining that a greater share is being provided to a number of model authorities who were able to demonstrate best practice in highways maintenance. These councils have invested in new technology and initiatives, and have brought in specialist machinery or set up dedicated crews, to help fix potholes or prevent them from appearing in the first place.
Potholes fixed in Kent by District:
In addition to pothole repairs, £5.4 million has been invested in ‘patching’ across the county. Investment in potholes repairs and patching is related to the size of a district’s road network, and the following profile shows the extent of the work carried out across the county.
Number of potholes fixed
Tonbridge & Malling
To repeat, residents are asked to report potholes and other faults on line at www.kent.gov.uk/highways, where details can be easily uploaded and locations pinpointed on an interactive map. Providing this information has helped speed up the rate of repairs. In the event of an emergency situation created by a pothole, however, residents should call 03000-41-81-81from the outset.
Final point. Please do not forget that I now have £25k in grant money to allocate across the division this financial year on community as well as highways projects, so please publicise this fact and encourage anyone who might be seeking grant funding to contact me in the first instance, but please take into account that this funding has to be spread across the division so, in being fair to one and all, a parish which received a sizeable funding commitment from me last year must not expect to receive the same level this year. Also, I am looking to award this grant money to projects which will have an enduring impact, rather than a fleeting effect for a number of hours or a day or two.
And that, once again and with my personal thanks to all of you for your continued support, concludes my report for June.
b. Sevenoaks District Councillor Paddy Cooke: Cllr Cooke advised he had nothing to report but recorded his thanks for the attendance of Les Roberts – SDC Legal Services Manager.
c. KALC: No report
d. Alms Houses: Mr Johnson advised a meeting of the Trustees would be held on 8 July at which the future resident of the vacant residence would be discussed. The programme of refurbishment of the bed/sit apartment would also be on the agenda. Problems with dampness were also ongoing and plans to deal with this would be further discussed.
e. Neighbourhood Watch: Criminal damage had been caused to a car and gardening equipment had been stolen from a garage in Penshurst; a gas bottle had been stolen from a farm in Fordcombe. Two parishioners had been approached with scams originating in China but were not taken in by the fraudsters.
f. Speedwatch: No report
g. Gatwick Airport: An Appeal in Open Session by Michael Knowles OBE, 7th July 2014
Over the years we have noticed an alarming increase in the number of jet aircraft flying overhead which emit an almost intolerable high pitched whine that is interfering with our ability to enjoy our property. On summer evenings we are denied the pleasure of opening our windows for a refreshing breeze as the frequency of the noise is too piercing. At weekends and at other leisure time when visiting National Trust grounds or other historic houses and gardens or simply enjoying the outdoors we are plagued by the same almost constant whine which seems to be prevalent across the whole of the High Weald which is recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
We understand that other villages and towns in Kent and Sussex are similarly affected. However, it is noticed that not all airlines or aircraft are creating this nuisance but only those that operate the Airbus A319/320/321 series of aircraft which we now understand account for well over 50% of all aircraft movements at Gatwick Airport. When we search the Internet to try and discover what’s going in the skies overhead we find the high pitched whine it is a design fault in this series of aircraft caused by wind flowing over cavities in its wings. These are the same physical properties we learnt from our science lessons at school when you blow over the top of a bottle and known as cavity resonance, but with the aircraft it is magnified alarmingly due to the high speeds and sheer scale of the problem.
Apparently this nuisance has been known to UK Civil Aviation Authority since 2005 yet only made public by them in October last year when they announced: “Following concerns raised around Heathrow Airport in 2005, the issue of tonal noise emanating from the A320 family of aircraft on approach was brought to the attention of Airbus by the CAA. Complaints of a high pitch “whine” which could be heard on the ground at relatively large distances from the airport. Similar concerns had also been raised around Paris and Frankfurt airports at around the same time. Measurements undertaken have confirmed the tonal noise is due to airframe noise not engine noise and is on all present A320 family variants.” They continue and admit that “Tone is emitted around 500-600Hz, close to peak sensitivity of the human ear, hence it is very perceptible. In other words it could have a distressing impact on all those that are within audible range, which is for those people living between approximately 7 and 25 miles from an airport where these aircraft are operating from.
We understand in Germany that the State Government of Hesse, where Franfurt Aiport is situated, has been involved with the Lufthansa and the Institute of Aerodynamics and Flow Technology (DLR) to find a solution to the problem. They were successful and found that by fitting a piece of aluminium called a vortex generator in front of the four offending cavities on the wings it disrupts the airflow and reduces the noise by a huge factor. Lufthansa have now announced it is their social responsibility to modify their whole fleet of 157 Airbus A320s to eradicate this nuisance which they say is at a cost of several million euros. Air France has similarly agreed to modify their fleet for the same reason. We would ask the council to engage with our local MPs to bring this to the attention of the Secretary of State for Transport, and Gatwick Airport Ltd, and the airlines causing this misery to ask why they are they not fulfilling their social responsibility in helping to substantially moderate this nuisance. It would be helpful if the Parish Council could also write on these issues directly to Gatwick Airport, the airlines at Gatwick operating these aircraft and GATCOM. Modification to the Airbus A319/320/321 will eradicate much of the distress to tens of thousands of UK residents and hundreds of thousands throughout Europe. It is people’s Human Rights to enjoy their property peacefully from a nuisance that can be effectively dealt with by airlines setting aside a small amount of their profits in the public’s interest. If it can be done in Germany and France surely it can be done here or is it that airports and airlines in the UK, or government – just don’t care?
Approval: Clerk had circulated the Draft of the Gatwick Local Area Consultation to members, Mr Knowles addressed a number of changes that had subsequently been made. It was proposed by Cllr Townsend, seconded by Cllr Frederick that the final version of the document as tabled be approved for submission. Clerk to forward to HWPCAAG for consideration at the meeting scheduled for the following day.
The issue of publicising the current impact of Gatwick flights was raised by a parishioner, clerk advised the information had been regularly shown in articles in the village magazines, agendas, minutes and consultation documents on the website together with a number of posters in the PC noticeboards. The parishioner acknowledged the input of Michael Knowles and offered to become involved in raising awareness of the situation. Mr Knowles and PC members felt direct response to Gatwick by parishioners recording their support for the PC’s consultation response would be the most effective option. Mr Knowles would liaise with Charlotte (Penshurst Magazine) regarding a suitable response for parishioners to adapt to forward to Gatwick.
Reported Faults Update:
83586: Entrance to The Lane, Fordcombe: damaged grating cover reported for repair/replacement. Site inspection indicates rebuilding required. Officer advised there was a history of flooding in this area which would be addressed.
93431: Blocked drains from Chafford Lane towards Walters Green. Highways representative advised length of drains would be checked during next twenty eight days.
93433: 30 MPH sign between the two bridges at the bottom of Rogues Hill rotted, works completed.
93436: Drains still blocked on New Road past Burzes Cottages, site attended, further work required.
97389: 40 MPH Sign: Near The Grove junction on 2188 towards Fordcombe, broken off at base. Works completed.
74659: Pothole: Bradley Road, nearest property Pilbeams. Site inspected, further work required. Work completed.
108148: Trench outside Penshurst Village failing. Work completed.
108146: Pothole 50-100 yards towards Fordcombe on right hand side of road past Colliersland Bridge. Works completed.
Penshurst Road/Poundsbridge: Notification received from Highways Officer that drains/gullies were being checked for efficiency – cameras being used as necessary, ditches and pond area also to be checked to see if clearance work necessary to prevent length of road persistently flooding.
113542: Pothole – Honey Field Cottage, Poundsbridge
113543: Pothole – Road leading from Poundsbridge up towards Speldhurst
Please Note: Any signs that are leaning but still visible and considered safe will be deferred for repair until funding is available. Only signs required to support speeding issues or of a safety nature will be repaired until further notice. Items in abeyance: 92566, 97389, 98395, 91196.
The use of plasticised kerbs was introduced as a H&S measure to aid easier manual handling, they appear not to have been as successful as originally hoped and were not now used as much.
The following accounts were presented and approved for payment:
Mr I Streeter Lengthsman £89.00
Air Ambulance Donation £250.00
Complete Weed Control Fordcombe Weed Clearance £170.80
RIP Cleaning Ltd Dog Waster Removal £63.36
SDC Bulk Freighter £173.04
Chiddingstone Parish Council HWPCAAG Contribution £193.03
Brian Loveland Penshurst Church Wall Repair £150.00
a. Swathe & Visibility Cutting: Inspection of Rogues Hill/Post Office Corner undertaken, Broad Lane completed. Cllr
Horsford confirmed with clerk area not undertaken during first cut, clerk to provide photocopy for contractors to carry out work on next visit.
b. Penshurst Church Wall: Interim work completed to damaged wall.
c. Long Bridge Land Clearance: Issue in abeyance until after site meeting with KCC Highways.
d. Allotments: Action taken after inspection: Cllr Campbell cleared nettles and checked the components parts of the wooden gate to assess repairs – clerk to contact Pallet Handling to price new gate and install. The metal gate requires one of the bolts to be tightened and a means of hooking the gate to the closure post to be provided, Cllr Campbell completed. Clerk forwarded letter to allotment holders at Bottle House site to ensure access from metal gate round to back of site cleared of all items, work benches, rubble, broken pots, hose pipes etc in order that the area could be tractor mowed – mowing completed. One outstanding payment awaited on Warren site.
e. Quarterly Accounts: Copy tabled for councilors for information, these were noted.
f. Contribution to Penshurst Village Hall: Cllr Broadhead had contacted the clerk in his absence to request members give consideration to a request from Penhurst Village Hall Committee for a contribution towards preliminary costs involved in the refurbishment/expansion of the hall. This work was to facilitate improved GP accommodation to give a larger treatment room, disabled WC and upgrading of the doctor’s office. Warders had applied to NHS Property to proceed with the work and approval had been received with a contribution of two thirds of the costs being offered by the NHS. The balance may be covered by village hall funds. Initial costs covering architects and planning permission fees would require the PC to contribute approximately £3000, members were asked to agree in principle to this request. Clerk had circulated details of Cllr Broadhead’s request via email to members. Clerk advised that for the PC to contribute towards the initial stages might be considered speculative and present the PC with a conflict of interests, paying for preparation of designs etc to planning stage and then having to consider whether to support the project, these were points raised by Cllr Campbell for information also. Clerk advised there was no reason why the PC could not be approached for a contribution at the project stage as this was clearly an allowance use of public funds. Cllr O’Shea would advise the Village Hall committee accordingly and the issue would be placed on the August meeting agenda for further discussion.
a. Sir John Stanley MP: Copies of SDC response to Gatwick second runway consultation and letter from Crispin Blunt MP (Reigate) inviting him to join the Gatwick Co-ordination Group formed to fight the expansion of the airport.
b. SDC: Simon Davies, Partnership & Project Officer. Information regarding free Guided Bike Rides in the Sevenoaks District.
c. SDC: Information regarding the new system for registering to vote, posters placed on noticeboards, clerk requested information suitable for placing on website. Individual Electoral Registration will be required by all voters, most people already registered will be automatically transferred to the new system. Those needing to register or re-register can do so via www.gov.uk/register-to-vote Those now registering will need to provide more details including National Insurance numbers and dates of birth, this is in order to make the electoral register more secure, more information can be found on www.gov.uk/yourvotematters.
d. KCC: Map and Statement of Public Rights of Way – Kent 31 May 2013
10. ANY OTHER BUSINESS:
a. Coach Road Bridge over River Eden: The movement on the parapet was measured on 7 July and revealed the upstream parapet had moved horizontally 15 mm along its length, compare with the movement of 10mm measured during March 2014. The movement in the last four months is minimal but the bridge should be monitored.
b. Signs: Signs obscured by vegetation were reported to the clerk including the 30 MPH flashing sign near the Fordcombe Village Hall (Ref: 113198), Colliersland priority sign (Ref:113191). Clerk reminded members that only signs relevant to safety were being cleaned/cleared by Highways at the present time.
c. Potholes: Clerk to report pothole/sunken area in Coldharbour Road/Nunnery Lane near Godfrey House. (Ref:113545)
d. PORC: Complaints had been received regarding loud music and possible use of a tannoy system. Clerk confirmed original planning restrictions prevented use of a tannoy system on the site and if neighbours were affected by noise SDC Environmental Health should be contacted, the emergency number should be available out of hours.
e. Handrail: Clerk to report broken handrail from the road up the stairs to Leicester Square
f. Churchyard: Cllr Campbell advised that rubbish was being dumped in the corner of the churchyard, Cllr Carson to investigate.
g. Dog Fouling: Reports of excessive dog fouling in the villages was reported.
h. Campervan: Clerk advised that the large campervan in the layby could remain as long as the vehicle was taxed.
Meeting concluded 9.40 pm Next Meeting Penshurst: 4 August 2014
Penshurst: 6 October, 1 December
Fordcombe: 1 September, and 3 November.
Meetings at Penshurst commence at 7.45 pm and at 7.30 pm in Fordcombe.
Please Note the Following:
ADDENDUM A TO MINUTES OF Parish Council of 2 June 2014.
Three councillors have raised the discussion between JC and IC at the end of this PCM. They were not in the original minutes as the chairman felt all matters had been well covered and also it was uncertain whether or not the meeting was closed before the discussion took place. However there is no reason not to publish and they are as follows.
They revolved round an un-headed email sent by Cllr Carson to the Chairman on 5 May to which the Chairman replied and copied all councillors in on 6 May.
The main topic covered was the Judicial Review but it was Cllr Carson’s last paragraph which held the points at issue :-
“On a personal note, and the reason I have not copied it to any other member: have you considered stepping down from the Chair? If the answer is no, then I think you should consider being more transparent.”
As the Chairman had been proposed and adopted at the Annual Parish Council Meeting some three weeks earlier the topic of stepping down from the Chair did not take up the majority of the discussion; rather it was the transparency issue.
The Chairman stated that he was surprised that anyone was unaware of his wholehearted desire to supply affordable starter homes for the youngsters in both our villages, wherever a suitable site could be found, so that they could stay and work in their own Parish. As previously noted he had immediately copied Cllr Carson’s concerns to all PC Councillors on receipt of the email and found it difficult to think how he could involve councillors more than at present.
Cllr Carson did not raise any other points and somewhat reluctantly acknowledged that he had noticed some small improvement lately.
ADDENDUM B TO MINUTES OF 7 July 2014
Three years ago and through to the present day, I have been writing to this table (Penshurst Parish Council) to draw our attention to significant points in relation to the Forge Field application. The way we have presided over this matter has caused deep concern not only among Cllrs but perhaps most significantly, to a great number of Parishioners, because the matters brought forward by myself, Cllr O’Shea & Cllr Broadhead have been effectively ignored. In 2011, for example I drew our attention to the significance of a Visual Impacts Assessment (VIA). We voted without that documentation and I suggested at the time that it was not possible to properly assess Harm without that information. (How Harm was appraised was identified as being flawed, in one of the recent Court hearings). We had effectively already decided, in relation to any Harm element, that a VIA would not change our minds. In February 2012, a time when I challenged how we could support the application without necessary and required documentation, it was told to take up the matter as an individual. Subsequently, following SDC’s decision to eventually commission a VIA, which was criticised by the AONB Officer, who registered concerns over it, it then becomes Parish Council business. Our comment submitted to SDC in relation at this time was both negative and did not include comment from myself, Cllr O’Shea and Cllr Broadhead which is at least the second time comments have been forwarded to SDC without particular Cllrs contributing. In the meantime and in the background a Legal agent is appointed for the purposes of bringing about a Judicial Review. Later on In 2012 following a KALC planning workshop attended by myself and Cllr Broadhead, we, together with Cllr O’Shea wrote to the Chairman requesting to debate specific matters (i.e. planning in the historic environment, Policy SP4, the Crow Act, AONB and more) prompted by attending that workshop, which would, in our words, allow the PC to “engage in meaningful evidence based debate to inform our stance to convince the parish that we have undertaken to examine this controversial issue properly”. At this point parishioners become increasingly flabbergasted the PC’s performance. In the Chairman’s annual parish report he records that On supplying affordable homes in our parish we unfortunately have made little progress… the Forge Field saga continues… The continued resistance by the anti Forge Field movement still delays this important project, which, having sent the Barristers comments to the Chairman, shows that not only he is incorrect, but at worst biased. The literature defining predetermination and bias states that one should not make a decision about an issue without taking them all [the arguments] into account. The VIA point is a clear example of our inability to do our job properly. The logical conclusion in the vast majority of the village is that we are biased or incompetent or both. Supporting an application that we knew was flawed, failing to represent the community properly, failing to assist in the provision of affordable homes in the parish, fouling the course of good governance, renders the Chairman’s situation untenable.