Challock Parish Council Annual Meeting Minutes
Tuesday 29th September 2015, 7.30pm
Members of public present: approximately 45
Michael Fisher (Chairman), Dianne Sandy (Clerk), Trevor Smith, Annabel Burden (Vice Chairman), John Ramsden, Max Thomas, Emma Fox & Gavin Spiers.
KCC Ward Councillor Charlie Simkins & ABC Ward Councillor Larry Krause
The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced KCC Ward Councillor Charlie Simkins and ABC Ward Councillor Larry Krause.
Cllr Mick Fisher reported on the following:
This is my first Annual Parish Meeting as Chairman and I am pleased to report on the highlights of the activities of Challock Parish Council during the past year. I am privileged to have a hardworking committed team of Parish Councillors and to report on the considerable work carried out by them. My thanks to you all for your support during the past year. In May of this year we had Parish Council Elections in which 5 new councillors were elected Annabel Burden, Emma Fox, Gavin Spiers, Trevor Smith & Max Thomas. We said goodbye to Roger Spicer former Chairman, Diane Ashworth, Akile Clinton & Stephen Brandon and would like to say thank you for their invaluable contribution.
We also said goodbye to Kirstie Wooltorton who has done a wonderful job and to thank her for all her hard work as Parish Clerk. We welcome Di Sandy who was Assistant Clerk who has taken on the role of Parish Clerk.
Finances have maintained good order however; all levels of local government have to operate under severe financial constraints and Challock Parish Council need to be mindful of this. The Parish Council continues to look at maintaining costs to a minimum. There have been savings made with amalgamating the role of Parish Clerk and Assistant Clerk.
With the loss of recycling revenue £8,750 the Parish Council need to be cautious with our future spending and projects and cannot rely on grants we have traditionally received.
Speeding issues have been a particular concern in the Village. Our efforts to date have including encouraging the Police to be active in speed monitoring. Charlie Simkins KCC Ward Councillor has also been very supportive and organized speed monitoring survey. Recently our Community Warden Dave Beckley has coordinated contact with Guy Rollinson KCC Speedwatch and the Parish Council are looking to form our own Community Speed Watch providing we have enough volunteers to help.
Inconsiderate parking outside the School and on the Lees continues to be brought to the attention of the Parish Council. During 2013 new double yellow lines have been provided in Church Lane near the school and occasional traffic wardens have improved this problem. However, parking on the Lees still remains a concern.
During 2013/2014 the Parish Council arranged Envirocogy to carry out a survey on all the trees on the Lees. A number of trees required attention and in order of priority have been treated accordingly. The pot holes on the Lees track have been maintained regularly by the groundsman. Landscapes are contracted to carry out the grass cutting as per schedule.
An annual safety inspection of the play equipment is undertaken for the Parish Council. Some of the play equipment in particular slide and assault activity is in need of repair and showing signs of wear and tear. The bark is also starting to compact and flatten and will require replacing in the near future.
Overall the village is kept clean and tidy and the groundsman continues to do a splendid job in maintaining the Lees track and pathways. There appears to be the correct number of litter bins however recently there has been a request for additional dog waste bin for the top of the Lees (Beech Court Gardens end). In the absence of a dog waste bin at the bottom of the cricket ground there is a number of discarded dog bags in the hedge. The Parish Council are currently looking into purchasing additional dog bins/litter bins to resolve this problem.
Publicity & Community Events
Community events in the village have notably declined with the absence of the Farmers Market and the Challock Goose Fair. The Goose Fair has been a great success over the years and a lot of community groups have benefited from the proceeds. Understandably the committee and organisers wanted to step down and have a break. The Parish Council has over the past year received a number of enquiries about the Goose Fair and why it is not continuing. There have been tentative enquiries for the future to hold a traditional village fair and not on such a large scale as the Goose Fair. A case of watch this space!
The Primary School, Methodist Church and Challock Church all make a real difference to the community we have. A special thank you to Fred Beadle who has recently stepped down as Church Warden. He has done a wonderful job and the Parish Council wish him well in his retirement. The Church now has 2 vacancies for Church Warden. The future of Challock Church is a concern and it is hoped that someone will come forward to take on this crucial role.
Publicity is circulated via Notice Boards, KM Roundabout, Forester, Challock Website and recently Challock Chatter. Challock Parish Council will continue and endeavor to improve communications via these forms of media.
William Oure Trust
This trust originates from William Oure whose 2 acres of land in Pested Lane known as the Poor Field and its annual rent, the proceeds of which would be distributed by the church at Christmas time to the poor people of the Parish. The trust operates differently in these times and is registered with the Charity Commission. From time to time a request is made to the Parish Council to assist a parishioner who is in need. The funds in the trust stands as of April 2015 £3,301.04.
The confines project took place during 2012/13 and in 2014 Ashford Borough Council gave its approval for the boundary changes to take place. A surge of planning applications have come forward. 29 applications out of 49 in total for 71 new dwellings. 4 dwellings have either withdrawn or have not been permitted. 10 dwellings have yet to be decided. The majority of these dwellings are 4 bedrooms. It is expected that the majority of applications made have now peaked. A review of the confines project is due to commence shortly and whether the objectives set out in the confines project through consultation have been met.
Review the Confines Project
Obtain funding for Skate Park
Obtain funding for Play Park Bark replacement
Set up a community speedwatch group
The Parish Council are keen to know the projects residents would like to see the Council working on along with dealing with issues, requests for grants and support. Residents are welcomed to attend Parish Meetings, contact through email or mail to c/o Post Office.
Comment Forms are available for parishioners to complete and return to the Parish Clerk
Thank you for coming to this evenings Annual Parish Meeting and thank you all for your support.
Confines Project & Open Questions
Chairman gave a brief outline of the confines project and the stage it is now. The current stage is to commence review/feedback of the confines project.
Comments received by the public:
Bus Routes & Service Concerns were raised that there is limited bus service 666 does not operate on Sundays and evenings. The last bus from Ashford is 6 pm and from Faversham 5pm. Also bus service 5pm from Ashford has been taken off; if school children miss the 4pm bus the next one is not until 6pm. Young people felt it was a long time to wait around in Ashford. A request for 667 route from Challock to Canterbury more times available.
Councillors response: The current service is based on the demand and previously there has not been enough people using the service to warrant evening and Sunday services. Clerk will pass on parishioners comments regarding the current bus service to KCC transport.
Challock Farmers Market was not supported many people in the village have their groceries delivered by supermarkets. The Farmers Market in Challock ran on a Friday as there was too many running on the weekends. No request was made to the village hall secretary if there was availability for the use of the hall on the weekends. Though the Farmers Market ran successful for over 5 years it was unable to continue as there were no volunteers came forward willing to take it over.
Councillors response: Many residents of the village would be working during the week and the Farmers Market may have been more successful if it ran on the weekend.
Confines Report stated a balance range of houses mainly 2/3 bedroom developments but seems more larger dwellings have been permitted. Outcomes of the confine project would hope to set direction for the opportunity for improved services in the village. The effect of the changes made to s106 developer contributions to the village; all developments are 6 dwellings and under. There would be no contributions made to the village by the developers due to this new ruling.
Councillors response: During consultation of the confines project it was agreed by those in attendance of the workshops that challock would cater for small scale development and not one or two larger sites. New sites would be decided on merit of design and fit with the landscape and village; to protect the views of open countryside. Since the confines project was passed by Ashford Borough Council, the rules on s106 have been changed by central government.
Guest Speaker Charlie Simkins Ashford Rural West County Councillor
Charlie Simikins thanked Challock Parish Council for inviting him to the Annual Parish Meeting and gave a report on KCCs current activities.
The pressure on local government finances remains acute as a result of the continuing decline in financial support from Central Government which is expected to last until 2019. Over the last five years KCC has delivered savings of around 3350M with the majority of these savings being delivered through a sustained focus on service efficiency and good business practice whilst maintaining front line services. KCC welcomed the positive response to the budget consultation with over 2700 residents taking the time to express their views on the priorities the Council should select for the future. It is encouraging to note that the public has recognised the extent of the budgetary challenge facing KCC with the majority of residents supporting a small increase in Council tax. However even with this, the Council will need to find around £90M of savings to balance the books in the coming year.
Going forward it is going to be even harder to make savings which is why the process of transformation is gathering pace. This encompasses all areas of front line services as well as a reorganization of the back office. The main emphasis is on the gradual move to a Commissioning authority which will involve the outsourcing of a number of activities to private suppliers in an attempt to reduce costs and raise efficiency. This in itself is a complicated task and there are risks involved in this approach, not least the selection of the provider. However, it is likely that the structure of KCC five years on will be quite different.
There have been several important consultations over the past year, probably the most controversial of which involved Community Wardens where a significant reduction in numbers has been planned. I am glad to say that following the voicing of considerable public concern the plan was amended to ensure that cover is being maintained at a similar level although some administrative changes have been made. This is a demonstration of how people power works and I would encourage you all to respond to consultations where you feel strongly about local issues.
Turning to street lighting, following a consultation in 2013 in the spring of last year KCC switched off around 100 street lights on a trial basis. Additionally around 60,000 street lights were converted to night operation. This provoked a high degree of concern particularly in urban areas although there is no evidence that crime has risen as a result of the switch off. These changes have reduced annual energy costs by £1M and carbon emissions by 5000 tons. A similar programme has already been adopted by a number of other Shire councils. Looking ahead KCC is pursuing funding to convert and upgrade all its street lights to LED equipment. As well as reducing costs this will enable lighting to be restored to all night operation. KCC is in the process of developing the scheme and conversion works will begin in late 2015/early 2016.
One of the challenges relates to the increasing number of young asylum seekers particularly over the spring and summer months as a result of Kents position as the principal gateway into the United Kingdom. Disturbing number of young people going into care, a small degree go to other counties. This raises practical and financial problems, not the least of which involves negotiating with central Government the degree to which Kent is entitled to financial support in tackling what is a national problem.
Operation stack on the motorways during July through strikes and people getting into the tunnels. It is not just a Kent problem but central Government needs to concentrate on it too. The use of Manston disused airport can be used but is not a solution as it is too far from Dover and the roadways are not very good. Having a number of lorry parks up the country would be a better solution. Winter services are stacked up with sand and rural roads will be covered.
No report would be complete without reference to Highways where understandably a high level of concern exists over the state of Kents roads particularly in rural areas. KCC has an annual programme of maintenance and improvement and is attempting to find headroom in the budget to invest in additional road maintenance. Recently it had delivered a spring pothole blitz and I would encourage all of you to report potholes on the automatic service.
Please continue to voice concerns through your Parish Council or to me directly
Open Forum for Village Clubs & Organisations
Challock church Rector Paul Ratcliff stated that Challock Church is not under any threat and the benefice is not in the business of closing churches. Volunteers are in short supply but there is no risk to the future of Challock Church.
Challock & Molash Gardeners Society are looking for new members and would be most welcome to join. The gardeners society meets in Molash Village Hall. They are affiliated to the Royal Horticultural Society and Kent Federation Horticultural Society. For more details visit website at www.molashpc.kentparishes.gov.uk.
Roaring Twenties are looking for new members and would be most welcome to join.
The club meets at the Challock Methodist Church. One of our members Mrs Newman has recently celebrated a centenary birthday.
Any Other Business
Memorial Service 11th November 2015 Challock Church and Methodist Church are happy to do a memorial service at the memorial cross on the Lees. A wonderful opportunity to honour the fallen.
Confines Review Councillor Noel Ovenden requested that a further meeting/workshop be planned providing the opportunity for further review/feedback. Councillor Ovenden questioned whether enough advertising of this important event was made available to the parishioners of Challock. Councillor Ovenden commented that the Confines project has not provided any benefit to the village of Challock due to small scale developments no financial contributions have been made.
Councillors response: Unfortunately changes to s106 by central government have prevented developer contributions being made. It was accepted that further review of the confines project will take place in November.
Chairman thanked everyone for attending.
Meeting closed at 9.15pm.
Next Annual Parish Meeting to take place 2016 date to be confirmed.