MEREWORTH PARISH COUNCIL
MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD IN MEREWORTH VILLAGE HALL ON TUESDAY 28 November 2017
PRESENT – Philip Olden (PO) – Chairman, Michael Bound (MB), Andrew Wells (AW),
Katherine Eykelenboom (KE), Jenny Thorogood (JT), Gill Kirby (Clerk),
No members of public
- Apologies for absence – Jon Regan (JR), KCC and TMB Clr Matthew Balfour and TMB Clr Mrs Ann Kemp
- Declarations of Interest – none
- Co-Option of member to fill Vacancy on the Parish Council -(KE) reported that a resident of the Airfield Estate may be interested in standing. She would invite him to attend the next meeting to give a report
- Questions from members of the Public – none in attendance
(This is a concessionary short session and limited to 30 minutes. Five minutes per person will be allowed initially and only if time permits will further comments be heard. This session is for information only and no action need be taken upon items raised)
- Reports from County and Borough Councillors and Police – none in attendance
- Minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held 24 October 2017 -These were agreed as a true record and signed by the Chairman
- Matters arising not covered elsewhere on the agenda – (AW) asked if the two residents had been informed that the trees on the recreation area border were not going to be cut by the Parish Council. Clerk reported that they had been sent a letter. One resident had replied confirming that he would obtain quotes for cutting back the branches which overhang his garden. The other resident had not responded.
(a) Bank reconciliation and ratification of cheques for signing
Bank reconciliation as at 31 October 2017 was approved and bank statements
verified. Reconciliation and cheque payments as listed were ratified and signed.
- Grant application for patio improvements at pavilion – Clerk had approached Clr
Balfour who was willing to help with a County Members Grant. Application form for grant had been completed and submitted. Decision awaited. Action Clerk
- Interim audit of accounts 2017-8 – this was undertaken on 6 November 2017 – Audit Report had been circulated – no issues. Congratulations and grateful thanks were expressed to Clerk for the work involved.
- Estimates and Precept Requirements for 2018-9 – Clerk had circulated information.
It was recommended that precept for the coming year be set at £31,120.00. This would be a 13% increase and would include contingencies for Elections, Open Spaces and tree works. (JT) felt that the contingencies were important as there were trees which may need to be removed and the allotments required much work. (MB) felt that it was prudent to build up a modest amount of reserves. Chairman felt that it was important to communicate to residents why the increase of 13% had been necessary – this was due to increases in workload, audit fees and the cost of management of allotments and open spaces.
It was proposed by Chairman that precept be set at £31,120.00 – Agreed unanimously. Action Clerk
Aims and Objectives – (PO) recommended that (JR) as Chairman prepare a report at the end of the year to include the activities of the Council during the past year, how the precept had been spent and what was planned for the coming year – to be published in The Record prior to the Annual Parish Meeting.
- Updates on other issues
- MVH Liaison – nothing to report
(Clerks Note: Cars were still being parked in the village hall car park and had recently prevented the Pre-School children from playing in their garden area. Clerk had prepared a letter to be put onto car windscreens should any further problems occur).
- PCC Liaison – Parking in The Street outside the Church and School. Clerk had circulated correspondence from Rev Pat Dickin and Nu Venture bus company regarding parking outside the church and the school. The pavilion car park had been made available for parking for some years for large church events including recent funerals and the Remembrance Service but this had been poorly signed/directed and few drivers had used the car park.
(PO) reported on his attendance at the recent JPCTCG meeting at which Matthew Balfour and Norman Kemp of Nu Venture had attended. It had been reported by the bus company that Mereworth was the biggest problem area in West Kent and was getting worse, due to selfish parking by parents at school. Norman Kemp had offered to attend a Parish Council meeting and had explained that the lay-by was not conducive to good traffic management. He had recommended moving the bus stop from the lay-by to just east of the school main gate. If the problems were not resolved then the bus company may re-route.
A further suggestion from Mr Kemp was to establish the lay-by and The Street in front of the school as ‘drop-off only’ parking zones limited to (say) 5 mins per car. He also suggested that he could provide a shuttle bus from Kings Hill to the school as most children travelled from Kings Hill. This would be on the proviso that the school ensured the shuttle bus was used.
(PO) felt that policing these solutions would be the responsibility of the school. The pavilion car park was available at any time and the school could have a key. This had been suggested in the past but not taken up by the school. Parents could use the church lay-by too, but few did as it was felt to be too far to walk to the school.
(AW) said there was a regular turnover of parents and felt that the school must inform all parents more regularly.
(PO) said he was aware that the school regularly asked parents to park considerately but this was ignored. A radical solution was needed.
It was felt that the ‘drop-off only, no waiting area’ was the most practical solution and the Parish Council would support this providing the school enforced it, this could be done by PTA members. Opening hours could be extended to avoid children waiting with parents outside school.
(JT) was concerned at the prospect of buses being re-routed as residents already suffered from inconsiderate parking and may now have to walk further to a bus stop. Elderly people should not have to walk to Seven Mile Lane or A228 to catch a bus. She suggested that the school field off Seven Mile Lane be used for parking and that the school could apply to KCC for a drop-off point in the school grounds.
It was agreed to write to the Headteacher asking where the children travelled from and invite her, the Chairman of the PTA and a School Governor to a meeting with the Parish Council at 6.45pm prior to the next Parish Council meeting on 12 December 2017 giving them the following suggestions to consider prior to the meeting:
- Moving the bus stop from the lay-by to just east of the school main gate
- Establishing the lay-by and the Street in front of the school as “drop-off only” parking zones, limited to (say) 5 minutes per car
- Facilitating the use of the Pavilion car park for parents wishing to park longer than “drop-off only”
- Enforcement of parking regulations by the School staff or PTA
- Opening the gates earlier to allow pupils to enter and not wait outside with parents
- Arranging a shuttle bus service from Kings Hill to the School
Parking outside the Church – Rev Pat Dickin had written to the Parish Council regarding drivers parking outside the church during funerals and special events despite cones being put in place to prevent this. (AW) suggested that the PCC could use polite notices hung over the wall instead.
(JT) suggested that two disabled bays be marked out by KCC beside the small gate to cater for funerals.
It was agreed that residents had the right to park there as it was public highway. (AW) felt that drivers ought to be directed to park in the pavilion car park when it was made available for special events. It was the responsibility of those involved in the event to arrange this. It was not felt that there was any justification for putting in a car park by the church. Suggestions made were – sandwich boards and asking people to act as ushers.
Grateful thanks were expressed to (PO) for laying the wreath and reading the lesson on Remembrance Sunday.
- Highways –
(Clerks Note:The additional white lining on The Street had now been completed and the Highways Engineer had apologised for the long delay).
(PO) reported on the meeting of the Traffic Consultative Group at which Matthew
Balfour had been Guest of Honour reporting on HGV parking. Now that the
Ashford proposal had been rejected, they were looking at options. The Pothole blitz
had been very successful. Funding of supported/subsidized buses had been discussed
(involves only 3% of all buses in Kent; none in Mereworth).
Speed Indicator Devices (SIDS) had also been discussed – these flashed the road speed
limit and some included a recording chip. Some of these were mobile so 3 or 4 sites could
be nominated and the box moved between them. A Cabinet Members Grant could
be applied for and, if successful, the boxes would become the sole responsibility of the
Parish Council to maintain It was agreed to apply for two boxes, Kentish Stone to be
asked to move them around once the poles had been fitted.
Matthew Balfour had also talked about the Kent Street works and reported that
negotiations with landowners had now begun.
- Allotments –
- Fencing repairs – (JR) was still to arrange to meet with Kentish Stone to discuss
- Possible acquisition of allotments site – (JR) had asked if the Estate would
consider giving the allotments site to the Parish Council. Response was awaited
- Clearance of untidy Allotment plots – Clerk had written to all tenants who had not made an effort to tidy their plots asking them to do the work by next spring or they would be given notice to quit. Three tenants had decided not to renew their tenancy. The vacant plots had been offered to those on the waiting list but all had refused as the plots were in such poor order. Vacant plots had been advertised on the website. It was agreed that Clerk write to those on the waiting list to ask if they would reconsider taking on the tenancy if the plots were improved by a rotavator round February/March. Action Clerk
It was agreed to invite all allotment holders to the January meeting to discuss the future management of the allotments, possible improvements, charges, possible removal of the allotments altogether, and to ascertain what assistance the Parish Council could give including views on the possibility of setting up an Allotment Committee. Action Clerk
(JT) to ask contractor for an estimate of costs for clearing, rotavating and re-fencing the plots Action (JT)
Clerk to ask Kent Landscapes for estimate of costs for same. Action Clerk
- Deposit returns – A tenant had queried why his deposit was not to be returned as
the plot was in a poor condition when he took it on. It was agreed that the agreement stated that the deposit would be returned providing the plot was left in good condition and had nothing to do with the condition at the start of the tenancy. The deposit would, therefore, not be returned. Action Clerk
- Neighbourhood Watch – nothing to report
- Childrens Play area/Recreation area/football pitches –
Future additional use of pitch/pavilion – Clerk had been in contact with Kings Hill Cricket Club who were interested in using the pitch on Saturdays next season. The Volunteer Co-ordinator of Cricket in Kent had also offered to direct clubs to apply to Mereworth if they needed a ground. (PO) had produced posters advertising the facilities and (JT) had put up a banner on the Recreation Ground hedge advertising ‘Halls for Hire’.
Clerk reported that not only had the Barming FC Men’s Football team moved to another venue, but one of the junior teams was now using pitch only and not the pavilion.
There had been no response from Kings Hill football clubs. (PO) to contact Rene Bennet as he had some contacts with football clubs Action (PO)
- Any other business and matters for future discussion –
- War Memorial Listing – The Mereworth War Memorial is to be considered for Listing under the Historic Monuments Scheme. (AW) to provide information to their representative.
- (JT) reported that she had ordered a gift to be presented to Stephen Reynolds to mark his 20 years as a Parish Councillor.
- (JT) suggested asking KCC to provide disabled bays either side of the church. (PO) felt that the PCC should be responsible for requesting this. Agreed
- (JT) noted that the Parish Council did not commemorate the start of the Ist World War but had agreed to commemorate the end of it – 11 November 2018. One idea was to plant a tree in the churchyard on Remembrance Day 2018. This to be discussed further and with the PCC.
Action All Councillors
- (KE) noted that there were blocked drains on Butchers Lane – One on the south side of the road into Butchers Lane cul-de- sac and one near the footpath to the Recreation area. Clerk to report these to KCC. Action Clerk
- Date of next meeting – 12 December 2017 – 7.30 pm in the Village Hall
Meeting closed 9.59 pm