2011 December Minutes

Present: Councillors Miss Bransfield (Chairman), Inchley, Dr. Mitchell  and Norris.


Also present: Roy Wade (Clerk to the Council) and 3 residents


31.             APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE


No apologies for absence were received.


32        MINUTES

 RESOLVED: That the minutes of the Meeting held on 19th September 2011 be approved and signed by the Chairman.

 

33               DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

 No declarations of interest were made.

 

34.       REPORT OF A POLICE OFFICER

No police officer was in attendance to report and Members noted that P.C. Burgess on sick leave.


35.             CHAIRMAN’S REPORT

 The Chairman reported upon the following matters:


On the Agenda for 19th September there were three items requested by Cllr. Norris that were technically illegal in that they were not matters that the Parish Council could consider as they were matters dealt with by other organisations. Furthermore insufficient details were given and other Members of the Parish Council were totally unaware of the items to be covered.  As it was, I, as Chairman, had a prejudicial interest in two of those items, of which I was totally unaware and the manner in which these items were introduced deprived me of the opportunity of declaring my interest.  In my view such behaviour is unethical.


Eventually, when it was made clear to Council what subjects were to be discussed, the two items in which I had a prejudicial interest were not even Parish Council business.  One concerned the replacement of a sign that has existed for many years and, therefore, no planning permission was required, and the other concerned a planning decision and appeal which, again, does not concern the Parish Council.  Incidentally, only two people are affected by these two items; they are not matters of concern for the entire village.  It is inappropriate, again in my view, for a Councillor to raise matters that only concern him and in which he has a personal interest.  The Parish Council is not a forum where personal complaints can be raised.  They should be taken directly to the District Council Planning Department, where the responsibility lies, and not waste the time at Parish Council meetings.


The “Members’ Interests” item was omitted from the Agenda because I was not aware that there were any relevant matters to be discussed.  It is not normal practice to whisper personal interests to the Clerk before the meeting.  It is incumbent upon all Councillors to declare any interests in public at the commencement of the meeting.   If Cllr. Norris had the interests of the Parish Council in mind, he would have advised the Clerk of this when he received his Agenda.  He is aware of the rules and this appears to be a deliberate attempt to deprive Members of the content of these items before this meeting.  This behaviour is, once again, unethical.


The “Members’ Reports” item does not exist to facilitate raising complaints, or demands to be given historical archive items to enable scrutinising them in order to find something about which to complain.  This Parish Council has always worked as a team and, if any, councillor is not prepared to become a part of that team and honour the declaration signed to represent the residents of this village, I suggest such councillors should seriously reconsider their position.


On that subject, Councillor Norris has refused to provide any contact details to those you are supposed to represent, which is in effect “frustrating and demeaning the electors’ ability to contact you:  i.e. affecting your performance as a member”.  This is in breach of the Code of Conduct and I should like this recorded as an Official Reprimand.  It is also not normal practice to refuse other Members permission to access the property in which you live in order to deliver Council papers, particularly when you did not have the courage to tell us directly but informed the Clerk that only he would be allowed access.  This results in additional time and expense for the Clerk and, thereby, costs to the parish purse. 


Two additional items were requested for this meeting which I have not allowed as, yet again, they are not Parish Council business and I have no intention of allowing any more time on petty complaints.  (Incidentally, bonfires and the Village Voice do not concern the Parish Council.) The Clerk commented that the content of an agenda was the prerogative of the Chairman.


2.  CORRESPONDENCE.


a)  The Clerk has handed me a letter he has received from Cllr. Norris.  I do not appreciate a Member writing to the Clerk to complain about me.  If you have any complaints about me, kindly have the courage and decency to direct them to me personally.  You could do as you’ve done in the past and walk to the post box to post them to me.  You will not waste any more of the Clerk’s time with your petty vendetta, particularly when it concerns a booking in the village hall and, yet again, does not concern the Parish Council.


b)  I have also received some correspondence from Mrs Jo Donald about a bonfire.  It is inappropriate and, in fact, unacceptable for someone who purports to be a Parish Councillor to, I quote, “shout, bully, rant and rave” at a neighbour.  You know there are no local byelaws that can be enforced and you had no right to complain to TDC about a one-off event.  This is a rural community.  If you object so strongly to farms and bonfires, I wonder why you moved here at all.  And if you only wish to complain and criticise everyone who lives in the village, I wonder why you put your name down to be a Parish Councillor.


c)  Parish Councillors and the Clerk have all received a letter from Cllr. Norris (incorrectly addressed).  As I have already explained this is a planning application and appeal from some time ago over which the Parish Council has no jurisdiction.


3.  MEETINGS          


Thanet Rural Regeneration Group.  Not much happening.  We’re trying to decide how best we can regenerate the rural communities.  Mostly covers Speedwatch.

Thanet Area Parishes Committee – Chief Superintendent Mark Nottage and Inspector Mark Pearson were present.  They confirmed that, due to cuts, we are going to lose some police officers and staff but they assured us that police cover for East Kent should be better than before.  They wouldn’t confirm whether we will lose PCs Burgess and Read, but detailed information will soon appear on their website.

Joint Transportation Board – It was confirmed that some money has become available for traffic calming, but we will be discussing this with Charles Hibberd.

Kent Association of Local Councils – Planning Conference & Localisation Bill.  Some information given on the implications of the Localisation Bill, but more will become clear when details are finalised.


4.  WEBSITE            


Apologies that it is not up to date but there have been problems and I am due to discuss these issues with the web team.  I’ve been having access problems since the beginning of November.  I am in contact with KCC, trying to solve the problems. Concerns have been expressed by Mr. Tony Burgess and I will acquaint him of the situation.

Members also noted that the Localism Bill had now received the Royal Assent although details of the funding arrangements to be put in place to allow town and parish councils to undertake more duties was still awaited.

Finally Members noted that the parish council’s web site was experiencing problems and the Chairman was in discussions to try to resolve the issue.

RESOLVED: That the report be noted and that Councillor Norris be authorised to attend training seminars on the Localism Bill and planning when the courses are next held.

 

36.       ABSENCE THROUGH ILL HEALTH OF COUNCILLOR MRS. O’REILLY

The Clerk reported that Cllr. Mrs. O’Reilly was still unwell and had not attended a council meeting for 6 months. However Members were advised that the Parish Council could extend the period of absence through ill health for a further 6 months and it was

RESOLVED: To extend the period of non-attendance of Cllr. Mrs O’Reilly for a further 6 months.


37.       RECREATION GROUND/APEG REPORT

Councillor Dr. Mitchell reported upon the following matters


APEG  Final Report on Village Questionnaire

110 questionnaires were delivered – 46 completed questionnaires were returned and a further 20 households were contacted directly.  42% questionnaire response rate (60% response rate overall)

Do you use the recreation ground?

Yes – 48%

( questionnaire respondents)

 

No – 52%

( questionnaire respondents)

 

How do you use the recreation ground?  (% of those who use the recreation ground)

Walking

41

 

Swings

77

 

Slide

73

 

Climbing frame

59

 

Dolphin rocker

41

 

Adventure trail

27

 

Football area posts

41

 

Basket ball net

45

 

Other

Wildlife photography, hand ball, bonfire party

 

 

How often do you use the facilities? ( % of those who use the recreation ground)

< 6 times a year

23

>6 < 12 times a year

41

>once a month

18

>once a week

18

 

Ages  and numbers of children in the household ( of those who responded via questionnaire)

< 5years old

7

>5 years < 11 years

6

>11 years < 16 years

10

>16 years

4

There are approximately 32 children under the age of 16 in the village.  However it is clear that many older people in the village use the play equipment and recreation ground with their grandchildren – but this is not necessarily a very regular occurrence but is a useful community service.

Would you help with maintenance and/or funding? ( of those who responded via questionnaire)

Maintenance

Yes – 37%

No – 18%

Funding

Yes – 35%

No – 15%

Observations

·        The majority of responses have been very constructive and helpful. 

·        Just under half of the questionnaire respondents (households) use the recreation ground.

·        64% of respondents use the recreation ground less than 12 times  year

·        36% of respondents use the recreation ground more than 12 times a year

·        18% of respondents use the recreation ground more than once a week ( 9 households)

·        All play equipment is used  – usage reflected in age groups of children currently  in the village and time of year. 

·        There are many dogs/dog owners in Acol (numbers unknown)

·        Generally there is a view that the recreation ground is a useful asset for the village but that it is underutilized

·        Concerns: lack of suitable access/parking ,  busy roads,  dogs in the field, potential vandalism

 

Other APEG News

Coffee morning arranged for those who indicated an interest in supporting either the funding or maintenance of the recreation ground projects – Saturday 15 November 2011.  29 households contacted via invitation. These were households  who showed an interest either via the village questionnaire or when contacted directly – 13 households ( 19 villagers + 3 visitors) attended. Only one household attended who has children under 16 years.

Objective of coffee morning:

·        To get interested households together to set up good communication channels

·        To consider the interim results of the questionnaire as reported to the Parish Council

·        To start a dialogue leading to agreed actions for volunteers both for maintenance and funding

 

 Actions were agreed within the group and following the meeting the subsequent action and work has been undertaken by APEG volunteers – my  thanks to all of them

·        Cut the trees at the back of the play equipment to a height of approx 7ft so that there is a clear view through the wood.  Branches cut off the trees to form a log pile against the back fence to prevent youths gaining access through the fields – Done

·        APEG bank account set-up  – in progress

·        Trimming of all boundary fences  – Done

·        Removal of all preliminary waste materials from trees and fences- Done

·        Removal of debris and tidying of bonfire patch – Done

·        Letter sent to Quex re outcome of village questionnaire and villagers requests – Done

·        Meeting with Quex set up for 24 November  2011– Done

·        Meeting with “Funding Buddies” re grant application through “Awards for All” – Done

·        Small Communities Grant application submitted to KCC – £4,250

·        Received £100 from Birchington and Westgate Rotary Club

·        To consider ways to encourage households with children to get involved with the maintenance or funding process– in progress

Councillor Bransfield and I met with Quex Park Estates.  We met Mrs Curwen ( Assistant Estates Manager), the Property Administrator and the Events Manager.  Mrs Curwen confirmed that Anthony Curwen – the Estates Manager – has not objected to any of the projects raised in our original letter but has made the following stipulations. 

·         Provide a copy of insurance details annually – the public liability should be more than £2.5 million

·         Do not hold boot fairs that clash with Quex’s boot fairs on 1st Sunday in every month starting July 2012

·        All projects that require it, should seek legal and planning consent


The Quex Estates management are very pleased that the Acol community want to make full use of this area.  It was made clear that they would like full utilisation of the space but with due consideration to the whole community and health and safety issues.  Councillor Norris expressed disappointment that he had not been invited to the APEG coffee morning.  I explained that he had not returned his questionnaire so I was unaware of his interest but would make a note of it for any future meetings

37        PLANNING APPLICATION/ MATTERS


The Clerk reported that the owing planning applications had been received since the last meeting:


         Walnut Tree Cottage – SUPPORT

         The Cummins Factory – The proposed amendments (fitting of solar panels to the roofs) would be preferable to the existing arrangements and SUPPORT.

         The China Gate development – The Chairman reported that she had attended the TDC Planning Committee to outline the Parish Council’s continued concern over the proposals.  However the application was for the renewal of consent and the TDC Chairman recommended approval pending discussions with statutory consultees.   The development has been split into six sections and the current application covered section one.  The Officers (TDC) advised the meeting that phases 2 & 3 of the development were unlikely to be undertaken.

         Tree works at the Chapel of Rest – The Parish Tree Warden had been advised and SUPPORTED.

 

38        EMERGENCY PLAN

This matter is in hand and it was agreed to refer it to a future meeting.

 

39        FINANCIAL MATTERS


            (A)       Income and Expenditure to 1 December 2011

            Members noted the details of income and expenditure (as circulated) to1 December 2011 and the projected expenditure to 31 March 2012.

 

(B)       Bank Balances

The Clerk reported that the bank balance at 1 December was £8076.27;

 

(C)       Budget  requirements for 2012-13

                       

            RESOLVED: That the draft budget in the sum of £4450 be approved and referred to Thanet District Council.

 

(D)             Payments Schedule

 

That the following payments be approved for payment:

406     Chairman’s Expenses      £78.74

407     Quex Estates – Rent            60.00

408     Ladywell Acctcy.                  35.00

409     R Wade Clerk’s Salary      400.00

410     Inland Revenue PAYE       100.00

 

40        REPORT OF A KENT/DISTRICT COUNCILLOR

 No Councillors were in attendance to report.

 

41               MATTERS OF REPORTS BY MEMBERS  

 

Cllr. Inchley – KIACC had now issued revised proposals on the contentious matter of night flying and TDC were to commission an independent report.

Cllr. Dr Mitchell – asked when the salt bins would be sited at the Chapel of Rest and the Church in Plumstone Road. The Clerk to chase up.

Cllr. Norris raised the matter of bonfires and circulated a leaflet on this matter.

 

42               DATE OF NEXT MEETING

 It was agreed that the next meeting would be held on 20