PENSHURST PARISH COUNCIL
Minutes of the Ordinary Meeting of Penshurst Parish Council held on Monday 6 February 2012 at 7.30 pm in Penshurst Village Hall
1. PRESENT: Cllrs J Cass (Chairman), Mrs D Broad, J Broadhead, A Campbell, I Carson, S Frederick, J Horsford, J O’Shea, B Townsend.
2. MINUTES OF MEETING HELD ON 5 December 2011 having been circulated, were approved and signed by the Chairman.
Declarations of interests in agenda items
If a Member has a prejudicial interest, this should be declared at the start of the meeting.
Personal interests may be declared at this point or alternatively can be declared at the time when the specific item is being discussed, if a Member wishes to speak on an item in which s/he has a personal interest. NONE
It was reported at the November meeting of Parish Council that two members of the public had made anonymous allegations of misconduct against Councillor Mrs Broad and another member of the previous PC. These have now been heard by SDC Standards Committee – Assessment Sub Committee who ruled that no further action would be taken as there was no substantive prime facie evidence to suggest a potential breach of the Code of Conduct had taken place. Complaints listed were possible conduct in a manner which could be reasonably regarded as bringing the office or authority into disrepute, disclosure of personal interests and effect of prejudicial interests on participation.
The Assessment Sub-Committee thoroughly examined the complaints together with the evidence submitted by the complainants, in addition copies of the relevant PC Standing Orders were provided together with access to a public website related to the local issue at the heart of the complaint that was linked to the complainants. The Monitoring Officer also obtained advice from Standards for England in relation to the prejudicial interest aspect of the complaint.
Administrative issues raised were a collective responsibility of the whole Council and would not amount to a breach of the Code of Conduct
Neither member acted for private gain or put their private interest above the public interest
Members complied with the PC Standing Orders at all times in relation to use of casting votes, written vote which the Sub-Committee recognised that, although it was difficult to assess what pressures may have prevailed at the meeting it appeared to be a difficult, controversial issue.
With regard to ‘misleading statements’ made at the meeting, this was considered to be freedom of speech and individual perceptions and opinions would have differed, members are allowed to hold strong views, the Code of Conduct was not meant to gag members.
The affordable housing issue had been listed on the agenda for the 4 April 2011, it would not be normal practice to list ‘motions’ on the agenda as expected by the complainants.
The full report of the meeting is available on the relevant SDC website.
A parishioner, the previous Chairman of the PC, requested information regarding a complaint submitted to SDC Standards Committee, the current Vice Chairman confirming she had also been the subject of the same complaint procedure, they were both particularly concerned regarding the points of ‘personal gain’. The complainant advised he had acted after verbal approaches by a number of parishioners and consequently did not consider an open meeting the right arena to discuss the issue as it could damage the village, he was prepared to provide the information in writing to those concerned who could then use the information as they wished. It was noted SDC had dealt with the process in the proper manner and dismissed the complaints.
The Chairman was asked for his opinion on whether there was a silent majority in favour of the affordable housing in Forge Field as stated by a member of the previous parish council, he confirmed the numbers responding to SDC in relation to the planning application appeared to be even. The parishioner advised those in favour were listed on a ‘round robin’ letter whereas those against had written individually and he considered there was no silent majority in favour.
A parishioner asked how much Penshurst Place were obtaining for the leases, the Chairman advised as far as he knew there was a £10K cap per unit placed on all housing associations but he was unaware if any further annual sums would be paid.
The Chairman advised that in view of late comments by the Conservation Officer it was likely the application would be put before the April meeting.
Cllr Carson raised the issue of the visual impact assessment, this had been requested at one of the village meetings on 2 November 2011 and he had been advised by WKHA representative that these were costly procedures. There appeared to be confusion over the figures which at 6m above ground level exceeded the industry guideline of 1.6-1.6m. Cllr Carson stated this meant the issue would be going out for re-consultation. He was personally unhappy with the behaviour of both SDCllr Paddy Cooke and WKHA in connection with the application. The Chairman stated that it was difficult to follow Cllr Carson’s argument and therefore asked Cllr Carson to provide a written statement of the problems relating to the visual impact assessment and figures available so that all members of the PC could peruse these prior to the next meeting.
SE/11/02726: Upper Bullingstone , Penshurst Road , Speldhurst: Demolition of property and erection of replacement. No Objections
SE/11/03162: Warren Farm Barn, Fordcombe Road, Penshurst: Demolition of outbuilding and construction of replacement garage and store. No Objections.
SE/11/03004: 4 New Road, Penshurst: Retrospective Application: 2 Storey side/rear extension. Variation on 08/02529. Advice received application no longer valid
SE/12/00120: Penshurst Place Estate, Penshurst: Change of use of land from agriculture to mixed use. Agriculture and recreation use as a Maize Maze open to the public for 54 days per calendar year with erection of two bridges and viewing platforms. No Objections
SE/11/02955: Lane Cottage, The Lane, Fordcombe: Erection of first floor rear and first floor ground extensions with hipped gable roof, change of use of double garage and installation of window on side elevation. This application was noted as refused in the previous minutes whereas it has in fact subsequently been approved.
SE/11/02779/LBC: 2 Rectory Cottages, High Street, Penshurst: Erection of part single and part two-storey rear extension. GRANTED
SE/11/00815: Highfield House, The Lane, Fordcombe: Proposed tennis court surrounded by chain link fence. Surface material green colour macadam. GRANTED
SE/11/02778: 2 Rectory Cottages, High Street, Penshurst: Erection of part single and part two-storey rear extension. GRANTED
SE/11/03354: The Moat, Penshurst Road, Penshurst: Various works to trees
SE/12/00195: The Rectory, High Street, Penshurst: Various works to trees
4. MATTERS ARISING:
a. Speedwatch/Speed Indicator Sign: Cllr Broadbent advised that manpower to carry out speed checks was a problem, he had received only two responses to his magazine article so he would mention the issue again in the magazine. He would speak to a member of the PTA to seek volunteers and hopefully build a rota of those willing to help. He would speak with the police regarding training in the use of the equipment.
b. Footpaths/Pavements: Cllr Frederick confirmed one of the landowners had agreed to assist but nothing had been heard from Penshurst Place, he would contact them again. Approximate costs for the project would be 430m x 1m wide of road planings at £4 per metre plus fencing at £4 per m.
c. Drive – Penshurst Road :
Website indicated matter 32421 resolved, clerk was advised that there was no allowance in the Traffic Signs and General Directions 2002 (TSRGD) to cater for this problem so subsequently queried if there were any other sections, sub section, direction, policy etc that could be accessed to help provide signage. Laura Squires advised if the residents wish to erect a sign on private property and have the permission of the land owner KCC would have no objection provided the signs do not cause a hazard to other road users. Resident advised of outcome.
d. School Access: Clerk to contact school regarding Cllr Carson attending Governors’ meeting to discuss options with regard to safe walking route to school. Cllr Frederick to approach Ben Thomas regarding use of any estate land.
e. Becket Trust – Cllr Carson confirmed he would be speaking to Sarah Crookenden in the next two weeks.
f. High Speed Broadband –
Clerk had received one report of poor service, this had been circulated to members.
SDC involvement in current possible provision of high speed broadband to parishes. Clerk had received a request from the Economic Development Officer at SDC – Mr J Middleton – for a letter of support from the PC for the initiative to improve the broadband quality of service in the surrounding area, she had forwarded this on 30 January. Cllr O’Shea agreed to liaise regarding this issue, clerk to provide latest information and contact for J Middleton.
g. Rogues Hill: Cllr Carson confirmed he had spoken with Ben Thomas of Penshurst Place regarding the hawthorn near the bridge at the bottom of Rogues Hill and as this was on estate land he would be dealing with it.
a. Swaylands: Mr Sellings advised deceased trees were being removed and there were still one or two units available.
b. Kent County Councillor: KCCllr Lake hoped the crash barrier by Laundry Cottage would be restored to its previous shape, he had also asked for a ‘SLOW’ sign to be introduced. Funds were available from Defra to assist with Broadband upgrading, SDC had put in an application covering Chiddingstone, Hever, Leigh, Penshurst and Speldhurst. The members of the PC again unanimously supported the erection of the interactive speed sign in Penshurst, a meeting was to be arranged with Steven Noad to discuss the issue, Cllr Broadhead to liaise with Cllr Lake. He had received a complaint from a resident in The Close, Fordcombe regarding the condition of the road and the potholes, Allan Gibbons (Highways Officer) would be visiting site. An area of pavement adjacent to 12 Glebelands in Penshurst required resurfacing (Jim Latheron SDC advises work will be completed as soon as funds are available). County were intent on freezing tax for the ensuing year but £97m in savings were needed. Cllr Lake wished landowners would act responsibly and cut back trees/shrubs overhanging paths and roads to make the area safer for those using them.
c. Sevenoaks District Councillor: No report
d. KALC: Cllr Broadbent advised the main item had been the cost of potholes repairs, there had been no reports from parishes.
e. Alms Houses: Peter Johnson reported that the heating was being investigated and the trustees would have a meeting with a heating engineer during the week. It was expected the cost to attend to the heating would be in the region of £4K.
f. Neighbourhood Watch: Farmers had reported the theft of metal components of farm gates to Peter Johnson, electric fence energisers had also been stolen. It was suggested that the flashing red light associated with the energisers be covered up so that attention is not drawn to them. Walkers were asked to report anything suspicious to farmers, the Neighbourhood Watch or to dial 101. The police have revised their contact numbers, 999 is for emergencies as before; to provide or obtain information call 101. It is advisable to use a land line rather than a mobile to call 101 to ensure contact with a local office.
a. New Road: Site inspection held with police, local residents and highways as a result of recent spate of accidents during icy weather. Police submitting report requesting speed sign be moved closer to Fordcombe, highways cleared blocked drain. Unlikely any funding would be available for providing non slip surface on road but matter continues to be monitored.
b. Grove Road: Report of gravel/sand etc washed on to road from PORC causing dangerous driving conditions reported to highways. Inspection carried out and landowner attempting to rectify matter which is being monitored. Clerk to report loss of further trees.
c. Speed Indicator Device – Fordcombe: Clerk reported the unit had been removed and returned to the factory for repair, it was anticipated it would be returned mid February.
The following accounts were presented and approved for payment:
Goldservice Contract Cleaning Ltd Public Toilets £757.34
Mr I Streeter Lengthsman £86.00
SDC Bulk Refuse Freighter £151.20
Complete Weed Control Fordcombe Weed Clearance £165.30
Fordcombe Village Hall Hall Hire £42.00
RIP Cleaning Dog Waste Removal £86.40
Southern Water Public Toilet Supply £2.28
Mrs E M Divall Clerk Salary/Expenses
April – December 2012 £3936.61
HMRC Income Tax £567.80
a. Jubilee Celebrations: Issue deferred to March meeting for decision, an article to be placed in village magazines for ideas for a permanent commemoration.
b. Play Day and Freighter Provision Update: Provision of Family Fun Day confirmed for August in Fordcombe, final date to be decided, Leigh and Chiddingstone wish to join with Penshurst for provision of freighter, clerks to liaise and arrange, possibility of visits three or four times a year if required.
c. Quarterly Accounts: Circulated to members for information, these were noted.
d. Donation Request: Request received from Samaritans for help in raising funds for the service provided. The PC do not use parishioners’ precept for charitable donations and consequently declined.
e. Gangmowing: Confirmation of quotation for 2012 season received at a rate of £246.18 for 16 cuts, this was approved.
a. SDC: Sevenoaks Residential Character Area Assessment Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) Draft for Consultation available on www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/ldfconsultations
b. KCC: Development and Infrastructure Creating Quality Places, consultation document available by following link on www.kent.gov.uk/kentdeveloperguide.
c. Arnold Hills Hall (Penshurst Village Hall): Request for PC to nominate a member to serve on the Management Committee of the Trust for the year March 2012-2013. AGM scheduled for 19 March 2012 at 8 pm in the Victoria Room. It was agreed Cllr Mrs Broad continue in this position, clerk to action.
d. SDC: Request from Ian Bigwood, Electoral Services Manager, for PC to consider proposal from residents in North Lodge, Redleaf, Penshurst Road to change the parish boundary between Leigh and Penshurst. Proposal supported by residents at Woodside Kennels, all parties feel that due to their involvement in Penshurst village it was a logical option, letter of support also received from Woodside Kennels. Members confirmed no objection to proposal in view of geographical proximity and also involvement of residents in parish. (Leigh PC are objecting to transfer)
9. ANY OTHER BUSINESS:
a. 2012 Meetings: Fordcombe: 5 March, 8 May, 2 July, 3 September, 5 November; Penshurst: 2 April, 10 April (Annual Parish Assembly); 4 June, 6 August, 1 October, 3 December. Date of June meeting revised to 11 June due to bank holiday weekend.
Meeting concluded 9 pm Next Meeting 5 March 2012 (Fordcombe)