MEREWORTH PARISH COUNCIL
MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL PARISH MEETING HELD IN THE VILLAGE HALL ON TUESDAY 25 April 2017
PRESENT: Chairman – Jon Regan (JR), Philip Olden (PO), Michael Bound (MB), Stephen Reynolds (SR), Andrew Wells (AW), Jenny Thorogood (JT), Katherine Eykelenboom (KE), TMBC Clr Mrs Ann Kemp, KCC and TMBC Clr Matthew Balfour PCSO Toni Matthews, PCSO Kim Hockey, Gill Kirby (Clerk), 16 members of public
- Apologies for absence – none
- Declarations of Interest – none
- Minutes of the Parish Council meeting and Planning meeting held on 21 March 2017
These were signed as a true record of the meetings
- Bank reconciliation and ratification of cheques for signing – Bank reconciliation as at 31 March 2017 was approved and bank statements
Reconciliation and cheque payments as listed were ratified and signed.
It had been previously agreed that Clerk’s salary be increased by 2% for
It had been previously agreed that a donation of £50 be made to Music @
Malling – (s.137 LGA 1972)
- Audit of accounts 2016-7
- Internal Audit– this had been completed on 24 April 2017 with no issues
- Approval of Annual Governance Statement – This was approved and signed by Chairman
(c) Approval of Accounting Statements – approved and signed by Chairman
- Date of next meeting – Annual General Meeting – 23 May 2017
Annual Parish Meeting
- Annual Report of Chairman of the Parish Council
Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and commented that Mereworth had wonderful volunteers and a good community spirit. The village had a limited amount of crime and there were few reports of litter. Fly tipping was something of a nuisance however. He thanked everyone for coming and introduced the speakers.
- Reports of Borough Councillor, County Councillor and Police
Borough Councillor’s Report – Clr Mrs Ann Kemp reported on the Borough Councils quest to save money and felt that with the introduction of fairer funding, Parish Councils would save TMBC money and keep council tax down. There was to be a reduction in Bulky Waste collections but these did not affect Mereworth. The introduction of parking charges in Borough Green and West Malling had resulted in drivers finding it easier to park and had raised money. Leisure Services were popular and well used and were thought to be some of the best in the country.
A robust plan was required to protect against unsuitable development.
Mrs Kemp said it was her great privilege to represent Mereworth for another year and she looked forward to helping everyone.
County Councillor’s Report – Clr Matthew Balfour mentioned the General Election called for 8 June. He said it had been a problematic year in terms of budgets especially with regards to Social issues so all other budgets had been reduced. The Keep Kent Clean project had been successful and a social media campaign continues. The Pothole Blitz had been difficult due to budget constraints and it was not easy to keep up with pothole repairs on single track roads.
The Kent Street crossroads improvements should come forward in the future and they need to look at improvements to A228 but nothing was decided, though he felt that the road was not safe.
Education issues had been relatively successful and most secondary schools students had been given their first or second choices. Qualifications gained were higher in Kent and Offsted approval and ratings were up.
Clr Balfour felt that Parish Councils would have to take on more responsibility in the future, which he felt was good as they would know better what was needed.
Clr Balfour was aware of the potholes at the A228/A26 roundabout. A resident felt that the contractors did poor repairs which resulted in the potholes coming back straight away. Clr Balfour was trying to get smaller business to undertake the work as he felt they could be better.
He felt that A228 was not fit for purpose but questioned how KCC could find the money to make it better, by rebuilding? to what extent?
A resident asked if there was a masterplan for roads in Kent. Clr Balfour answered that there was no longer a Structure Plan and KCC had to co-operate with planning authorities, which was difficult. He was trying to get co-ordination and mentioned a new sub-national transportation board which may help. But roads were not designed for the large vehicles we have today. There was a new A228 Group formed by Grant Clark which was looking at solutions. He felt that if the Lower Thames Crossing goes ahead, residents would not want the A228 to be dualled.
A resident mentioned that Seven Mile Lane was another issue and she would like speed to be looked at as there is a school, crossroads, and there had been fatalities
Police Report – PSCO Toni Matthews reported that Mereworth was a consistently low-crime area and a safe place to live. There had been 27 crimes last year and 29 this year. The recent arson incidents had now ceased and the police did not know who had been responsible. Burglaries were fewer. The PCSO’s continue to work with children at Pre-school and School.
Flytipping was mentioned and the PCSO’s explained that they patrol and report incidents but responsibility for removal and prosecution lay with TMBC.
Chairman suggested that residents take photographs of any flytipping and vehicle registration numbers and report these to TMBC
- Annual reports of village organisations and groups:
Mereworth School Governors – Mrs Marion Regan reported – I am pleased to be presenting the report on behalf of the governors at Mereworth School. For some time now we have been anticipating an Ofsted inspection and the time finally arrived in March. The inspection was very thorough, the inspector met with the Headteacher, the school governors, the subject leaders and teachers, and of course spoke to many pupils. He looked at the quality of teaching and learning at Mereworth, the effectiveness of our leadership under Miss Lavelle, how watertight is our safeguarding and what are the outcomes for pupils. Masses of data was scrutinised but he also spent a lot of time going round the school joining in with lunchtime, talking to the leadership team, and asking very perceptive questions.
Thanks to the very hard work and inspiring leadership, the school has achieved ‘Good’ status, and some lovely comments in his report.
Mereworth School is a delightful to school to be involved with, and has a real sense of purpose and achievement. Pupils aspire to do their best academically and in sport and music, and kindness and consideration for others is notable and rewarded. Despite some challenges from being a small village school, it is pushing on with its target to accelerate all pupils’ progress in all areas to better than expected (4 STEPs per year), with a particular focus on Maths. There is a great Maths passport scheme, to encourage mental maths, and soon an impressive new Maths teaching scheme based on a Chinese model, will be rolled out through the school.
They love music at Mereworth – and their excellent progress in singing has recently been recognised by a Silver ‘Sing Up’ award. And there is also a focus on spreading excellence in sports/PE coaching through the school, supporting each teacher with new ways of encouraging excellence and participation. Soon there will be new play equipment for the trim trail and here I must acknowledge the great efforts made by Friends of Mereworth School who are making a £1,000 contribution to the cost of this from their fundraising efforts.
Governors are divided into ‘monitoring pairs’ to cover particular areas as ‘candid friends’ to help the SLT monitor the schools effectiveness in key areas.
I am particularly involved in monitoring how the school’s finances are managed and am impressed by the professionalism shown by our school business manager and Headteacher in running the school on such a tight budget, supported so well by the staff. Pupil Premium money has been effectively spent, and pupils who need extra help to achieve their full potential receive good support throughout school. For example, Mereworth has engaged an excellent play therapist and fitted out a new play therapy room which is widely used.
There are popular Breakfast and After School Clubs which are working very well.
Soon we will know more about the new Funding Formula, due to be introduced from 2018-2019, and the impact of this on the school over time.
However, it has been reported that there is an average of 8% real terms cut by 2020. There will be a transitional year during which local authorities will continue to set local schools funding formulae, before a move in 2019 to 2020 to the great majority of each school’s individual budget being determined on the basis of a single, national formula. There will be protections built into the formula so that no school will face more than a 1.5% per pupil per year or 3% per pupil overall reduction. There are real concerns about school budgets and funding and the impact that this will have on schools, so we will be looking carefully at this at Mereworth .
Finally to finish with a few sentences from the Ofsted report: “ Pupils’ behaviour around the school is exemplary. Mereworth is a tranquil place to learn. Pupils take great pride in their work and their school environment – they know and understand the school’s values and do all that they can to act in accordance with them’’.
We are lucky to have such a Good School with such dedicated teachers and support staff in our village and I know we all will congratulate Miss Lavelle in leading the school to this stage – but I also know she has even more she wants to achieve for the pupils at the school!
St Lawrence Church Parochial Church Council – Rev Pat Dickin reported – Mrs Betty Earl was licensed as a Lay Minister. She has a particular interest in healing.
The PCC has grown in strength and numbers, and they are very grateful for the contributions of Mr. Stephen Leadbetter who was elected to the PCC by the last APCM. Following the APCM William Boscawen was co-opted and brought new entrepreneurial skills that the PCC hope to build on. Following her licensing Mrs Betty Earl rescinded her position on the PCC as an elected member, as she became a member by virtue of her license.
It was clear to the PCC that all the goals set in 2013 had been achieved, and the process was put in place to begin a new Vision plan for the next five years that would further the mission of the church.. That process will be further developed in 2017.
Grateful thanks to Douglas Bratt and the bell-ringers as they have continued to grow in strength and numbers. There were so many learner ringers that an additional weekly practise had to be arranged. During the summer there was a complaint about the bell-ringers that found a satisfactory resolution and will hopefully allow a positive way going forwards that will be less disruptive to neighbours during the warmer periods of the year. Soon after that, TMBC Environmental Health contacted us as they had received a written complaint not against the bell ringers, but against the clock’s chimes. Thanks to Jon Regan from Mereworth Parish Council for his support in this. TMBC Environmental Health followed their procedures to investigate the complaint and the complainant (whose identity was never disclosed) did not pursue the complaint and therefore the matter was closed by TMBC.
In June the PCC hosted a children’s party to mark Her Majesty’s 90th birthday which was well attended, and the Sunday service on 12th June was a special service that finished with cake, strawberries and champagne and to which ladies were invited to wear their best hats and men come in their fineries. The service and special celebration was appreciated and well attended.
Following 16 years of dedicated service, Mr. Derek Wallis retired from his position as organist at Mereworth church. His departure was marked with thanksgiving and a RSCM Certificate and Long Service Medal were presented to him at the service.
With great sadness, the adult choir at Mereworth decided that they would take the opportunity to stop meeting – they did not give enough notice for gifts or farewells to be organised, but sincere thanks were expressed publicly in their final service. Their absence is felt strongly and they will be most welcome to re-form at any time and begin leading the singing once again.
The children’s choir continued to grow in 2016 with new members joining, and now has 25 children on the Register and continues to lead the worship in the church on the 4th Sunday of each month during term time as well as preparing special services. In October, the Children’s Choir joined the West Peckham Choir and with the support of professional musicians, and recorded a Christmas CD that was then sold at both churches. There are still some CDs left that will be sold in the run-up to Christmas 2017. The PCC is very grateful to Mr. Stephen Thomas for his continued enthusiasm and the continued growth of the choir.
Parking continues to be an issue outside the church and the PCC is grateful for the offer of the use of the pavilion car park. There have been vehicles abandoned in the layby outside the church but these cannot be removed. The PCC is trying to manage the situation and looking into the ownership of the layby.
There will be an Annual Parochial Church Council meeting this Sunday and all are invited to attend. Thank you to everyone on the Parish Council for their hard work in organising the litter pick, fete and liaising with other authorities.
Mereworth Village Hall
Rene Bennet, chairman of MVH Reported
The Defibrillator has been received and installed in the Hall.
The CCTV system has been upgraded
A full Health & Safety review has been undertaken which has included a full electrical inspection and certification and we are extremely grateful to our Local County Councillor Matthew Balfour for his assistance by way of a grant for £2574 in connection with the costs in this regard.
A full Asbestos Survey has been undertaken with a new Asbestos Policy now incorporated in the Hall/Pavilions Health & Safety Policy. Both this and the electrical certification will be undertaken on an annual basis.
Following the recent visit by the representative of Action with Communities in Rural Kent the Halls Hallmark Level 1 & 2 Accreditation has been reviewed & renewed for a further period of three years.
Following the Social Media workshop organised by Action for Communities in Rural Kent the Hall now has a dedicated Facebook Page and makes full use of the Parish Council web-site where full information regarding the hall can be found together with copies of policies, agreements and other documentation. We are very grateful to Rebecca for her work in this regard. The Hall has also registered with the Tonbridge & Malling Hive Lotto.
A full electrical inspection and certification has been undertaken together with a full Asbestos Survey, both will now be undertaken on an annual basis. Use of the football/cricket pitches/pavilion continue at weekends.
Other regular general repairs/maintenance of both sites continue.
Financially it has been a challenging year with every increasing costs and regular inspections/certifications to meet Health & Safety requirements.
In this regard a full financial review will be undertaken at the Pre-AGM meeting on 28/3/17 for formal approval at the AGM on the 25/4/17.
My thanks go to the Tote collectors and my fellow Committee members for their hard work over the last year. Also to the Parish Council & Fete Committee for their support & financial assistance throughout the year.
Mereworth and West Peckham Record
Report by Richard Jones – There is a lot of goodwill from a few who contribute to the Record and this is much appreciated. Chris Keeler does an excellent job as Editor. More subscribers were needed, however, Also if anyone would like to help by delivering, it would be much appreciated. Chairman asked if payment could be made on line. It was agreed this could be set up. Anyone with a hobby, an interest, a grouse, or who wanted to share their enthusiasm, would be welcome to contribute to the Record
Mereworth Lunch Club
Sue Darbyshire gave the report – The Lunch Club meets regularly on the second Tuesday of each month, except in August. Numbers attending vary between 26 and 36, and we have not yet run out of food! The lunch is for the over 60’s, and the cost remains low at £4 per head – a bargain for a home-cooked two course lunch. A £1 raffle ticket each month enables us to save towards a free Christmas dinner (with wine and all the trimmings) in December
This is a social occasion which is enjoyed by all those attending – at least to judge by the noisy conversation – and the work of the volunteer helpers is much appreciated; with delicious meals of the highest standard.
We have lost a few valued members in the past year, and miss them greatly. However, new people have joined, and we hope that the Club continues for a long time to come.
Katherine Eykelenboom gave the following presentation:
Happily it has been a relatively quiet year so I have little to add to what we heard earlier from PCSO Toni Matthews. However, I firmly believe that the essence of a good Neighbourhood Watch scheme is communication, so I would like to encourage everyone who is not on our Emergency Notification Email list to join. The email list is managed and maintained by Gill, our Parish Council Clerk, so to join, please contact either Gill or me (or any Parish Councillor). We will not be bombarding you with information, in fact, with any luck, you won’t hear anything from us at all, but should there be, say, a spate of burglaries, we will notify you quickly with what’s going on so that you can keep an eye out and take precautions
Mereworth & Kings Hill Scout Group
Scouts – Mike Darbyshire gave the report – The numbers within the Group increased again in the past year – there are now 131 members in the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts – and this year the Scout Section was divided into two Troops. The Explorer Scouts also increased in membership and are now 20 strong. We still have a waiting list, which seems to have become a national problem! An issue for the Scouting movement is that many of those may never be able to join.
We continue to use different locations for our sectional meetings; we take care to ensure that the programmes offered are identical in each of the separate sections. We are getting increasing support from parents, although there is still resistance to taking the step of putting on a uniform.
We are grateful for the support we have received from the Parish Council. The proportion of the membership living in the village is low, although there are Beavers and Cubs who attend the village school.
Crafty Chinwaggers – there was no one in attendance to give a report
Mereworth Pre School – no one available to give a report
Questions from members of the public
Residents asked about the Parish Council’s idea to install a seat in Butchers Lane. Chairman explained that this had been put forward but there had been no decision on the siting as yet.
There were questions regarding the recent cuts in Arriva’s bus service in Mereworth. Clr Balfour explained that KCC had no control over commercial services but felt that they had no consideration for the people they are serving and he hoped that they would reconsider their decisions. It was agreed that Chairman would write in support of the reinstatement of the services.
Chairman thanked everyone and in particular thanked The Clerk for all her work. This was also echoed by residents.
Chairman also reported that Clr Stephen Reynolds was to resign at the end of April 2017 after many years with the Council, and thanked him for all he had done.
Refreshments were served at the end of the meeting