Minutes to be approved for accuracy

WATERINGBURY PARISH COUNCIL

Minutes of Parish Council Meeting
Tuesday 6th April 2021 7.30pm

Held via Zoom

DRAFT

Present
Cllr M Wells (Chairman)
Cllr Fielding (Vice Chairman)
Cllr D Marks
Cllr L Simons
Cllr P Gregson

In attendance

Mrs S Cockburn – Clerk to the Council

Cllr S Hudson – Tonbridge & Malling Borough Councillor

Mrs C Byron & Mrs E Bird – Rostrum Correspondents

5 Members of the Public 

The Chairman opened the meeting by stating the meeting would be recorded to assist the Clerk in taking the Minutes.

19/219       APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

                   Cllr M Balfour and Cllr Tripp who was unwel

19/220       DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST/DISPENSATIONS

                   None

19/221       ANNOUNCEMENTS

The Chairman stated the Highways & Transportation Committee Meeting wouldd be on Tuesday 20th April at 7.30pm.

Maidstone Borough Council – regarding the Syngenta site and possible alterations to Wateringbury crossroads.  The Chairman thanked everyone who wrote in objecting and to Cllr Hudson who had raised the issue with KCC and MBC to get this stopped. Cllr Hudson has asked MBC when this would come before Area 3 Planning Committee.

The Chairman thanked everyone in the village for their efforts.

19/222       REPORT FROM COUNTY COUNCILLOR

Cllr Balfour was not present.

19/223       REPORT FROM BOROUGH COUNCILLOR

                   Cllr Hudson said a huge thanks to everyone who responded to the flyer and wrote in showing how much opposition there is to the crossroads ‘improvements’

                   There is another application for 330 homes on land south of Barming station off Hermitage Lane.  Cllr Hudson had written to Matthew Broome at MBC for clarification but no reply to date.

Cllr Hudson had spoken to Nicola Floodgate, who is responsible for planning and development, who had assured Cllr Hudson none of her  officers were working on such a scheme, and felt there was a breakdown in communications between two departments.

Cllr Hudson had spoken to an officer regarding Section 106 requests for planning applications, but the officer only reiterated procedures and how it has to come before the Joint Transportation Board for either agreement or voted off. Cllr Hudson was not entirely satisfied.  Cllr Hudson waits to hear what the Parish Council wants to do next and to make sure the residents voices are heard.

TMBC Local Plan -,The Borough Council had failed in their duty to co-operate with neighbouring boroughs, specifically Sevenoaks District Council who had already had their Local Plan kicked out. The latest Government amendment is to remove the right to co-operate from Local Plans, which would mean what TMBC have done will be irrelevant.  It maybe the case would be taken to the High Court for a judicial review if the Secretary of State doesn’t rule in borough’s favour. It is disappointing because it means that builders could put in spurious planning applications taking advantage of a lack of housing and a gap in the process.
Cllr Hudson reported that 56.1% is now recycled making TMBC the top borough in Kent and 7th in the UK for recycling improvement based on DEFRA figures.  Collections based on pre Covid +78% plastic +74% black bin waste +37% paper & card and +70% garden waste.

The Friends of Wateringbury will be tidying up the car park sometime in May. To remove the ivy and paint the fences and possibly put plants in the central island to brighten up the area.

The Community Fridge would open for the last time on Friday 30th April.  As lockdown is lifted fewer residents came along as a lot are back a work and the volunteers are returning to former activities. Cllr Hudson does not want to spend money on food if very few people come along. The fridge has been operational for over a year. Help was available for collecting prescriptions, letters posted or banking and buying shopping for those who needed help.  Cllr Hudson thanked all those who had helped her serve the community over the past year.

The Chairman asked to let him know when the Friends of Wateringbury will be at the car park as there is still an award to be presented to Mike Williams.

19/224       CRIME REPORT

Bow Road -Monday 1st March between 6.50am and 3.45pm somebody damaged a Honda parked in a works car park.

Tonbridge & Malling Area Committee of the Kent Association of Local Councils are taking up the issue on why no Police Community Safety letters are being received.

19/225       MINUTES OF MEETING HELD ON 32nd MARCH 2021 TO BE APPROVED FOR ACCURACY

                  The Minutes having been read were approved by Cllr Simons and seconded by Cllr Fielding – all Councillors voted in favour. The Minutes would be signed as a correct record.

19/226       MATTERS ARISING FROM MINUTES HELD ON 2nd FEBRUARY 2021

                   Cllr Marks said a site meeting had been arranged with Bikby Construction to look at the track at the playing fields on Friday 9th at 9 o’clock if anyone wished to come along.

19/227       REPORTS FROM COMMITTEES AND OTHER BODIES

                   Finance & General Purposes  – Cllr Gregson had approached 6 different highway engineers and obtained 3 quotes  The quote from Les Henry was a simple assessment while the other 2 were more detailed.  Charles & Associates and DHA (who had worked behind the scenes for Syngenta) know Wateringbury well.  They do a lot of work for private clients. Whether that compromises the Parish Council in any way showing that information, although Cllr Gregson could not see a problem with that at this stage. This has come about following KCC not coming up with suitable suggestions, which has caused understandable frustration, so the PC could get private consultants to provide a study.

DHA provided details of work provided for East Farleigh and the level of details is interesting, and it wouldn’t be a surprise they are well connected with Kent Highways and well versed in putting meetings together between Parish Councils and KCC, putting things on or off the table.

Cllr Gregson said that due to the responses from residents on Facebook if there was time to move forward it was now. Cllr Gregson appreciated the sums of money involved and Council may not like what we get back.  If there is nothing we can do wouldbe disappointing, and Cllr Gregson would not want Council to commit to being in the position of spending a lot of money, but at the same time all the proposals coming in are lovely but unless highway engineers say they are possible nothing will happen.

Cllr Simons asked how much was in the budget for this.  It was confirmed there was £10,000 in the 20/21 budget and further £10,000 in the 21/22 budget for traffic calming.  The Chairman said some of the money was needed towards the Bow Road 20mph limit.

The Chairman thanked Cllr Gregson for the time and work he has put in.

The Chairman said KCC had said, in theory, there could be a 600mtr 20mph limit from the traffic lights to the village sign at the bottom of Bow Road.  As the police do not enforce 20mph limits other forms of traffic calming would be needed.  Council had asked for details and any costs but due to circumstances, that was as far as it got.

Cllr Marks agreed with going with private consultants but had to say he did have a slight problem with one of the consultants that goes back many years.  Cllr Marks said that some large companies had their sights on land with access to a road.  Cllr Marks said he would go along with the majority but he did have concerns.

Cllr Gregson said be under no illusion every consultant will know Wateringbury which has turned up in planning applications.  To be clear the Council is dealing with people who have other clients who use developers and Council would have to include non-disclosure, but he was being as transparent as he could on their behalf.  They already know the area and the concerns we have will be put to them directly.  All three have agreed to join a Highways or Parish Council meeting if applicable.  This is just a starting point and they could be invited if that is felt appropriate to put questions to them directly.

Cllr Hudson asked what the costs were.  They were £5850 excl VAT, £5250 excl VAT and a simple assessment £1400,  Cllr Hudson said she was more than happy to cover 50% of the cost. The Chairman thanked Cllr Hudson.

Cllr Fielding felt a consultant would bring in the expertise the PC does not have. On suggestions from residents the consultants could come forward with what was realistic to counter anything KCC may throw back.

Cllr Fielding felt there is a good reason to get it done and asked if any suggestions resulting from an assessment could it be included in the Highway Improvement plan

Cllr Gregson said all 3 had extensive experience with KCC and any suggestions would go hand in hand with the HIP.  The more Council put in front of KCC the more seriously Council would be taken.

Cllr Marks felt this should be moved forward and Council could not afford to wait and make it a priority for the HIP

Cllr Simons asked if the figures were a firm proposal as other figures had been mentioned.  Cllr Gregson said the 3 could be asked what extras there would be.  For example Parish Councils can ask KCC for information for free, but if others ask there would be a charge of £750. Also the Speedwatch data would be useful.

Cllr Marks asked Cllr Hudson if there were any conditions attached to her offer to pay half the cost.  Cllr Hudson said no.  To call in professionals to have a look at what has been discussed over the past couple of years she would be happy to support it.  As Borough Councillor, and if successful your County Councillor, Cllr Hudson would be happy to supply that support, with a Members Grant of £20,000 a year to spend on her parishes, was a good way to utilize it for the benefit of the residents regardless of what the results are if it identifies an alternative to Kent Highways.

The Chairman asked Cllr Hudson, to clarify, that she was prepared to pay that sum of money into the project the Parish Council is going to drive through Cllr Gregson.  Cllr Hudson said correct.  The Chairman thanked Cllr Hudson.

The Chairman asked Councillors to discuss and come up with firm proposals for the Highways Meeting on the 20th April.

Highways & Speedwatch – Cllr Fielding had sent round version three of the working document but not everybody had come back. Because of time we want to ask residents their views.  Three Councillors had come back but if anyone who has not responded is unhappy to let Cllr Fielding know. Council needs to engage with residents and ask what do they consider you be the road problems in the village and ask what suggestions they have for solving these problems.  Cllr Fielding realises Council will get a lot of duplicated information on what has already been put by residents, but Cllr Fielding feels Council needs to go the route of giving residents the opportunity to put their views.

There maybe something Council does not know about and maybe some imaginative solutions. If Cllr Fielding can collate the opinions of the whole village,  then the document will be available if Council goes the route of having a consultant.  Cllr Fieldling would like everybody’s consent to the two questions, with a little introduction briefly to read Wateringbury Parish Council have been asked by KCC to put forward suggestions for improvements to the roads in the village, as residents and users and ask they write with answers to two questions to help make a positive contribution to the village environment. To go into Rostrum to meet the deadline and on the Council Facebook page.  Cllr Feilding also asked if Cllr Hudson would include this on the Wateringbury Traffic Group Facebook page.

                   All Councillors voted in favour of Cllr Fielding’s request.

Cllr Simons asked if there was a time limit as KCC had sked about our plan.  It was confirmed the Clerk had asked Ian Grigor of KCC if there was deadline and that the Council was seeking views of their residents. Ian Grigor confirmed that was no deadline.

Cemetery – Litter bin in the car park.  A request had been made to William English to allow a little bin by waiving a clause in the lease that does not allow a bin. A letter had been received from Mr English’s Agent BTF Partnership stating Mr English’s solicitor could produce a side letter for approximately £175 plus vat.   The lease comes to end in June 2022 when the car park will become parish property.  In the meantime the Clerk and John Ibbs would be happy to continue picking up litter.  The Chairman thanked both on behalf of the Council.

Allotments – All invoices had been sent out. Most were paying by bank transfer. Three posts had been put in along the fencing which had been leaning over the footpath.
Village Warden – There was no report from John Ibbs.

19/228       FINANCIAL STATEMENT AND CHEQUES FOR PAYMENT

                   The Financial Statement was approved by Cllr Fielding and seconded by Cllr Marks and all cheques would be signed.

19/229       PUBLIC DISCUSSION

                   Chairman announced he would allow 15 minutes for discussion.

Mrs Christine Byron referred to the traffic calming measures mentioned with the 20mph limit in Bow Road.  West Malling has a 20mph limit leading to the village past the country park and they did not have other traffic calming.  There were 20mph signs on the road.

The Chairman said Council had been told by Ian Grigor additional traffic calming was needed and did mention additional signs, so the 20mph sign on the road could one of them.

Mrs Byron said one of the Councillors was going to speak to the Crime Commissioner and asked what his views were on speed cameras.  Cllr Gregson said he had had the meeting with the Crime Commissioner who said he doesn’t have any control over speed cameras as they are managed by Kent & Medway Partnership.  People had to die over a short period of time between each other to justify speed cameras.  Cllr Gregson did ask why we are not seeing more speed checks in the village. He followed this up with an email asking for answer to the request. No answer as yet, although Cllr Gregson was told it would be put to the Chief Constable with a response from the Highway Inspector, but nothing received as yet, but Cllr Gregson said he would continue to raise it.

Mrs Byron referred to the questionaire to go in Rostrum and wondered if the little post box next to the library could be used for residents to post their survey if they don’t do them online.  Cllr Hudson felt this was good idea and Cllr Fielding said it could be included on the survey.

Cllr Hudson said the Government has not extended the law with regard to public meetings so as from 6th May all public meetings have to held face to face and asked if the Parish Council were aware and what they were putting in place.  The Chairman said the Council had only received confirmation that day from NALC.

Mrs Byron asked if the village hall, sponsored by the Parish Council, could have an internet connection.  Cllr Hudson said the village were looking at Wifi but there would have to be a strong business case to justify it. Due to restrictions the downstairs main hall would be more suitable for meetings.

It was suggested the local provider Trooli be asked to sponsor it.

Cllr Hudson said she was still waiting to hear how the Borough Council meetings will work although she did not see why a hybrid of meetings could not be used.

There being no further business the Chairman closed the meeting at 8.15pm