Minutes of Annual Parish Assembly held Monday 12 April 2010 at 7. 30 pm in Penshurst Village Hall
1. Apologies: Cllr S Frederick, KCCllr P Lake
2. Minutes of the Meeting held on 14 April 2009, it was proposed by Cllr Mrs Broad and seconded by Cllr Geal that these be approved and signed by the Chairman.
3. Chairman’s Report: Cllr Robin Sellings –
This year has been extremely busy for the council which has been faced with a number of challenges, many of the members have become heavily involved in all areas of council business and I would thank them for their continued enthusiasm and support during the last twelve months. I would also thank our clerk who is the backbone of the team for her work during the year.
Planning has proved difficult this year with contentious applications affecting parishioners greatly, the spectre of wind turbines and further polytunnels caused great concern and the responsibility of debating such projects to reach a fair decision has not been easy for members. Thankfully most of the other 50+ planning issues were more easily dealt with.
Highways again has been a time consuming problem but at last some action has been taken in response to our persistence. New safe paving has been provided in the High Street in Penshurst together with a remodelling of the entrance to the road to Leigh in the hope that drivers will have to slow down and therefore make the area safer for both pedestrians and drivers leaving the Village Hall parking area. Some potholes have been filled, some drains have been cleared and other minor repairs carried out. We will continue to push for further work to be carried out as necessary.
The precept was set at £21,060 for this year, approximately 1% higher than last year. The long term project to replace the play equipment at Fordcombe is continuing with grants being sought wherever possible. A decision to pay a contribution to SDC to keep the public toilets open for one year was taken by members, this is a one off payment and any future possible spending on this facility will need to be considered at the next precept meeting.
The major project that will affect the parish for years to come is of course the new housing and medical centre proposed for part of Forge Field. The councillors support this project and have made it clear to the SDC and WKHA that the properties built must be allocated to people who live in Penshurst and Fordcombe and have need of housing. We have made this our priority to ensure that the housing surveys undertaken which showed the needs of our parishioners will be honoured. The other aspect of the project, the medical centre, will ensure that we have modern, efficient facilities for our parish for everyone who needs them now and in the years to come. We hope parishioners will support us in this worthwhile project.
I have learned during the last year that you most certainly cannot get it right all the time and that you have to be thankful on the rare occasions that you do.
4. Retreat Charity: A written report had been forwarded by Mrs Janie Hill advising that a new tenant had moved into No 1, this having been completely redecorated with new carpets and floor coverings being fitted. The garden clearance had also been completed. New tenants had also moved into No. 2 since the last Annual Parish Assembly, various small external renovations and general maintenance had been undertaken. Investigations at the Land Registry had proved complicated but had been satisfactorily completed with two sets of certified copies of the deeds having been obtained.
A statement of accounts showing the income and expenditure account for the year ended 31 December 2009 had been provided for the PC.
5. Penshurst School Governor’s Report: Linda Wansbury provided the following report on behalf of the school:
In 2009 Penshurst Primary School was given its second outstanding Ofsted Inspection, consequently it is unlikely that the school will be inspected again by Ofsted within the next five years. During 2009 they were further inspected by the Rochester Diocese Statutory Inspection. The grade given overall was 2 which equals ‘good’; this was made up of a mix for grade 1 and 2 sub-grades, e.g. meeting pupils needs was given a 1 and teaching of R E was given a 2. The school has also achieved Healthy School Status. Seven children took and passed the 11+
The major project for the year was in the grounds and there is now a new tarmac playground to the rear of the school, a trim trail, a stage and climbing equipment. All these new areas link in with the barn, growing gardens and the pond. They take the focus for the children to the back of the school and away from the road. It looks great and means the whole area can be used all year round and not just in the few dry months from May to September.
A new project is just commencing to try and utilise the communal areas in the school more effectively. The project is in the very early stages – a proposal from an architect has been made and this is being studied and commented on by the governing body.
The children continue to have a number of after school clubs catering for all tastes, including singing, crafts and sports. The football team is enjoying much success at the moment and look on track to win the local cup.
There continues to be a large number of trips including a residential trip last June to the Isle of Wight and a recent trip to an outward bound centre near Guildford. Day trips include visits to Bowlplex, local farms and Penshurst Place. Events at the school include Victorian Day and frequent opportunities for parents to view their children’s work.
The Friends of Penshurst School continue to do sterling work and have run various events including a drinks party and coffee morning at the school where children from year five and six helped out.
Overall the school continues to be well subscribed and provides an excellent education for local children.
6. Fordcombe School Governor’s Report: Robin Dungate, Headteacher represented Nick Weaver, Chairman of Governors and provided the following report.
The number of pupils on roll is currently 104, one spare space being available. We welcome back Mrs Harris as school SENCo. The academic achievement of pupils at the school is good with end of Key Stage results and value added scores well above average. All fifteen children in Year 6 have accepted places in a secondary school of their choice.
The whole school has attended services in the church to mark Harvest, Christmas and Easter. The monthly family services have been well attended, with children contributing prayers, readings and songs, they really look forward to taking part in the services. We are extremely grateful to Rev. Holme for his support with RE and Worship and look forward to his regular Friday visits.
We have thirteen extra curricular clubs and activities run by volunteer staff and parents. The netball and football teams have played very well and have both completed the season in third place in their respective leagues. We are delighted that our Netball B team won the Edenbridge and District Primary School Sports Association Netball Tournament. We look forward to this season’s cricket, rounders, tag rugby and cross country tournaments.
All the children have benefited from a variety of visits and trips. These have included, amongst others, trips to Tunbridge Wells Toy Museum, Herstmonceux Observatory and Science Centre, a number of theatre trips, a trip to the British Museum and a choir trip to the 02 arena for the mass children’s choir.
At the end of the summer term the year five and six children attended a week’s residential course at Carroty Wood where they took part in activities like climbing, orienteering and an assault course. ?They also have instructor led sessions to develop their sense of social awareness and responsibility.
At Christmas we enjoyed the Key Stage 1 nativity play ‘Babushka‘. The Key Stage 2 performed a spring play entitled ’Bumbelsnouts Save the World’ which is on an environmental theme.
The Pupil Council and Eco-Committee continue to play an important role in leading and supporting school improvement. The children also generate enthusiasm and ideas to support various charities such as the Haitian Appeal, Cancer Research, Emmanuel – a child in Rwanda, the Royal British Legion, St. Peter’s Church and a few others.
All children continue to receive ’outstanding’ provision in PSHE and SMSC and pastoral care. This includes visits and talks from the police, school nurse, Children’s Workshop and other agencies.
We are looking forward to the final two terms of this year. We are installing some new play equipment in the Foundation Stage Playground and there is a visit to France for the older children. In September we are expecting a full intake of 15 new children. The continued success of the school is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the staff and governors and the support of the parents plus the enthusiasm of the children!
7. District Councillor’s Report:No report.
8. County Councillor’s Report: KCCllr Peter Lake provided following report via email –
We have striven to keep the Council Tax increase for 2010/11 as low as possible while at the same time improving front line services, but we have had to make a provision for a shortfall in Government grant for the asylum service. Our proposed increase was just 1.86% but this has risen to 2.1% because we are still owed money by central Government.
We are entering uncertain times for local government because whichever government is elected following the general election, funding for local government will be less in real terms than we have been accustomed to – but we do not know by how much less. We will continue to campaign vigorously for our fair share of national funds.
We have come through a very difficult winter and at times we have faced appalling weather conditions. In my view Kent Highway Services have done their utmost to cope by salting our roads, but undoubtedly a shortage of manpower dictates that we have got to help ourselves. We are, as members of the County Council, asking for salt bins to be placed at strategic points in every parish and certainly this will include both Penshurst and Fordcombe, and we want to secure deliveries of salt on a regular basis. Our roads are being attended to and the potholes are being filled, but had the roads been properly cared for in the first place, we would not be presented with the current problems. We just do not get enough funding from central government to maintain our roads across the county.
Our primary schools continue to do very well and they are hugely popular and for the first time we are seeing waiting lists which cause much angst for prospective parents. Also, children who achieve eleven plus and expect to go to grammar school are not necessarily getting there due to admission arrangements set out by the individual grammar schools in our area. Hopefully, by the September term, all children in my area who have failed to get places so far will do so. Those who are not going to grammar schools are seeing a much improved secondary system with the advent of academies but we continue to have a range of good schools in the Tonbridge area offering first class educational prospects.
As your KCC representative I continue to deal with parishioners problems ranging from social services to health, children, families and education. KCC is not responsible for local planning matters as planning and enforcement come under Sevenoaks District Council.
Despite the challenges ahead, I still remain positive and as far as the County Council is concerned we are determined to continue to be one of the top performing authorities in the country.
Once again I would like to thank the chairman, councillors and your clerk in helping to deal with the various issues we have faced over the past year.
9. Community Police Officer: PC Angus Bowler recorded the apologies of Chief Inspector Futers for non attendance.
PC Bowler advised that the parish continued to be one of the safest areas in Kent and although year on year figures for reported crimes showed horrendous increases of between 100 – 157% these equated to burglaries doubling to two in number with the average number of crimes being reported to February/March as six. A gang who had been targeting sheds and other rural crimes had now been arrested with the consequent drop in offences.
PC Bowler stated that it appeared speeding was the major concern in the parish and noted concerns raised by those present about the apparent lack of visibility of a police presence. Cllr Sellings reported that a school child had recently been hit by a car whilst walking to school and speed checks undertaken by the team had recorded nearly 600 vehicle movements during the busy commuter times. It was hoped that if and when the interactive speed signs were introduced the data logging facility would assist in identifying the problem times and vehicles.
Members would also appreciate the support of the police in obtaining signage to reduce the use of Long Bridge to one vehicle to prevent further accidents at this point.
Current proposals to alter the Speedwatch system were also causing concern due to the increase in bureaucracy placed on the volunteers carrying out this work, the matter was still under review however.
PC Bowler advised that parishioners could use the Neighbourhood Policing website to access information, if they entered their post code they would be able to check initiatives being undertaken in their local area.
(PC Bowler advised clerk after the meeting that arrangements were in hand for speed checks to be undertaken in the parish and a request had been submitted to highways regarding the white lining)

Meeting concluded at 8.05 pm