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Hartley Parish Council meetings 2011

Meetings Click on link to go to details of that meeting
11 January 2010

Attendees and declared interests
Y - attended; A - apologies














Interests (prejudicial in bold)

Gaywood (chair)














Mrs Oxtoby (vice chair)
























































Mrs Burns




























Mrs Cole


































































































Cllr Brazier (KCC)














Members of the Public














Council Meeting 10 January 2011

Public Questions

(a) Kent County Council - (i) Ofsted Report - Cllr Brazier said the council had received a rating of "inadequate" from Ofsted for children safeguarding.  He said the numbers of referrals had increased by 20% and they have a shortage of children's social workers.  They will try and recruit more but adverse media means that few people want such a career.  (ii) Manorbrook Care Home Dartford - there have been "very extensive and articulate" objections, but the council has voted to close it.  (iii) Roads - once again they plan to get firms to identify and fix potholes after the winter weather.  He said the roads in New Ash Green were worsening by the day.

(b) Sevenoaks Council - Cllr Ramsay said the budget had been passed and 30 posts will be lost.  He said they collect £20 million in business rates and get £5 million back.  Cllr Sewell said businesses get very little for this and even have to pay to remove their rubbish.

Finance and General Purposes

This committee met on 22 December and discussed the following:

(a) WI Hall - The Women's Institute plan to vote on the transfer to the council on 2 February.  The committee recommended the council take on all likely repairs listed in a report made in 2007.  These include reroofing the rear roof within the next 5 years, asbestos removal in the garage, repairs to windows and possible future underpinning of the building.  The total cost could be in the region of £20,000 - £30,000.  They also recommend the council waive a fire risk assessment, as they will do this later.  This was approved 11 votes to 0 by the council.  There was discussion about the WI's request that the current trustees be indemnified from liabilities that arose during their tenure.  The council refused to agree to this and several councillors spoke against the WI's proposal, Cllr Gaywood said they had to draw the line somewhere and that if it can't be sorted out the council will withdraw.  Cllr Ramsay said it was unreasonable and unnecessary and this is the council's full and final offer.  He said no-one connected with the WI he's spoken to can understand why this is being asked for.  They asked the council to take it over.  Cllr Alford said the council weren't going into this with their eyes closed, they know exactly what the situation is.

(b) Youth Club - attendances were 12 (November) and 15 (December).  Scouts have donated table tennis table and air football table.

(c) Longfield Delivery Office - Royal Mail have written to assure they are still committed to providing efficient deliveries 6 days a week and to provide convenient facilities for customers wishing to collect undelivered mail In Longfield.

(d) Salt - the committee recommended that Hartley does not accept an offer of 1 tonne of salt from KCC.  The local farmer had offered to store the salt for free, and only charge if the council wished them to spread the salt too.  Cllr Ramsay said it wouldn't go very far.  Cllr Abraham said they might be overwhelmed with requests, which they can't handle.  Cllr Minns said it was a dangerous precedent.  Cllr Burns spoke in favour and said they should at least defer until they can make an informed decision, this was agreed with 7 votes in favour, a vote against was not taken.


See Planning List.


The committee met on 15 December and discussed the following:

(a) Hay and grass cutting - quotation for hay cutting from Mr Hawkins and quotation for grass cutting from Westcut Mowing accepted.  Concerns raised about the amount of ragwort in the meadow.

(b) Insurance claim - has been received from someone slipping and cutting their finger.  Insurers do not believe council is liable.


Payments of £6,600 for January were agreed.

Meeting closed at 8.35 pm

14 February 2011

Public Questions
(a) Kent County Council - Cllr Brazier had nothing to report.

(b) Sevenoaks Council - Cllr Abraham said the new planning rules (Local Development Framework) had been passed by the inspector, who had turned down a suggestion by a developer for increased development in Hartley and New Ash Green.

(c) WI Hall - Dr Roberts asked whether the council would pay the Hall Trustees for the free lettings to the WI.  Cllr Gaywood said it was not their intention.  Dr Roberts asked don't they have to get best value?  Cllr Gwaywood said they have thought about this long and hard.  Mrs Sharp called for the youth club to be allowed to use the hall for free.  Councillors confirmed that they would be charged after the 3 month "trial gesture".

(d) Fences in Church Road - they were asked about several high fences at the south end.  They said it was a Sevenoaks council matter.

Amenities and Open Spaces

The committee met on 2 February and discussed the following:

(a) Football - Hartley de Sales were allowed to extend the season to 24 April to fulfil fixtures postponed because of the weather.  The football club were asked to remove discarded plastic bottles after matches.

(b) Billings Hill Shaw - a resident of Grange Way is concerned about trees overhanging the footpath and their property.  The council acknowledged some of the trees were on their land but thought they didn't need to do anything at this stage.

(c) Playgrounds - (i) they accepted a quote of £378 from Safeplay to repair the roundabout at Woodland Avenue.  (ii) The 13th January inspection of playgrounds had revealed 2 medium risk items that had been actioned.  

(d) Woodland Avenue - The kissing gate had been damaged in December and police informed.  They had to remove the gate which led to illegal motorbikes.  Since then the clerk had arranged for a replacment.  Also a dangerous overhanging branch had been removed at a cost of £50.

(e) Skateboarding - a local resident had written to request a park, which was once again refused by the council.

(f) Manor Field - they agreed to pay Weed Management £265 for moss removal.

(g) Longfield Hill - they agreed to pay Weed Management £220 for moss removal.

(h) Rectory Meadow - the Rural Payments Agency are now satisfied that farming activity is going on there and have restored the payments which they had previously suspended.

(i) Allotments - they voted to issue a notice to quit to one non-payer.

 Annual Parish Meeting 20 May 2011

1.         Present:

Councillors - Oxtoby, Abraham, Burchell, Burns, Ramsay, Coates, Coles, Fernley, Glander, Graeme, Sewell; SDC - Gaywood; KCC - Brazier

MP, Inspector Stevens and PC Karen Perkins, about 40 public

2.         Apologies

Alford, Horwood and 3 others

3.         Gareth Johnson

(a) Steep learning curve and at the same gradient.  He's pleased to be a resident of Hartley, uses local services, children use local schools.  Very busy year, didn't expect to have two votes for war.  He congratulated new parish councillors, noted difficult yard long ballot paper.  Thanked Julie Hoad for her help.

(b) Longfield Delivery Office - many have contacted him.  He has received an undertaking from the Post Office that no-one will have to go to Dartford to collect post, they will find somewhere in Longfield for that.  He hoped the delivery office could stay, but said the Post Office in Longfield is not closing as some claimed.

(c) URC Church - Gerald Cramp via the Chairman had asked if it could be used for community purposes, but understood it must be according to charity law.  Mr Johnson said he would contact him separately.

(d) Dartford Crossing - to question from Colin Senneck he said the toll booths will go to be replaced with a congestion charge like system, which will reduce congestion and pollution. The tolls will remain but he is pleased it won't be privatised as that would have caused prices to increase.

(e) Pensioners Bus Passes - Brenda Vickary raised problems now bus passes don't start until 9.30.  There is a bus to the hospital at 9.28 that they have to pay to Longfield and then use the pass.  Later buses are difficult for those on diabetic fasting diets.   Mr Johnson said this is a matter often raised, but there is always going to be some cut off time.  He sometimes tries to work with the hospitals to improve matters.

(f) Libraries - Mrs Oxtoby asked is the library under threat?  He said he had spoken to Paul Carter of KCC who was positive, but their future is under review.

(g) Army Equipment - Mrs Burns said she had a son in the Royal Engineers and they have to buy equipment.  For example the army doesn't stock half size boots.  The army also has to use "coffin" vehicles that US troops won't use.  Hoped he could use his influence.  Mr Johnson agreed this was an incredibly important point and he appeared to be supported by many in the audience.  He said it was scandalous how troops have been treated in recent years, and that they shouldn't send ill equipped troops to war.  Mr Abraham said he'd been in the army for 22 years from 1959 and on equipment things were the same then as now. They should look at the organisation of the MOD.  Mr Johnson said they were looking at that.

4.         Police

Inspector Stevens said the police have to save 20% of their budget (£53m).  This will mean 1,000 fewer civilians and 500 fewer police (out of current 3,770 police), but they are trying to maintain level of services. Neighbourhood teams will be retained and epanded.  Hartley will still have named PC and PCSO.  The areas will be reduced from 6 to 3 with West Kent joining with Maidstone.  Fewer areas will mean fewer senior officers.

PC Karen Parkins said they had prioritied areas of local concern - speeding on Ash Road (at this point the audience could hear a car speeding by!) and anti-social behaviour in the Wellfield area.  She gave an overview of local crime which was down 10% on previous year. She said someone had admitted to 40 shed break ins and been given 9 months.  Mr Sewell asked whether she thought 9 months was enough and she said their hands were tied but it did save a crown court trial.  Mrs McMahon asked whether anyone had been caught for the Manor Field break in, she said no but said they have their suspicions.

5.         All Saints' Church

Mr Tremain gave a slide presentation on the extension to All Saints' Church.

6.         Chairman

Mrs Oxtoby referred to the printed report.  She said for this year they hope to start on the new burial ground.  They have nearly finalised the legal matters. 

7.         Finance

Mr Ramsay said they had made a large surplus because there were bills expected that they haven't received yet and because they had not started on the burial ground. One bill not received was from Charlton Athletic for the football training days - he thought they had other things to worry about!  They will do 10 Kick Kent Football sessions this year instead.  They also have not got KCC to sign the parish office lease yet.

8.         Kent County Council

Mr Brazier said he spent 50 hours a week on KCC work, as well as being a member of various boards e.g. governor at New Ash Green and Fawkham Primary Schools.  It has been a difficult year with government grant cut by 15% and no increase in council tax.  They have lost 1,500 jobs and frozen wages.  Members have taken a cut in their allowances. This has led to some difficult decisions, for example on bus passes.

(a) Buses - he said they support 200 routes and have cut those 20 where the passenger subsidy is more than £3 per head.  This does not affect any route in Hartley.  To replace them Kent Karrier is available now in Sevenoaks District following withdrawal of Age Concern buses.  They are looking at extending the freedom pass from 16 to 19 (or 21 in the case of apprentices).

(b) Libraries - they are in decline and some will go.  We have 3 libraries between Longfield and New Ash Green, he doesn't know if one will close.

(c) Roads - he spoke a lot on this subject.  He felt they did well in winter.  With the help of farmers, they kept the main roads open.  Winter damage is now being repaired.  They have told contractors they expect a high standard or they won't use them again.  The maintenance contract with Ringway, which ends this year, has been unsatisfactory.  They are bringing in a new contract which will be better and cost £25 million less.  He agreed with Mr Spellar, who said a lot of the poor condition of the roads was down to utility companies. 

9.         Sevenoaks District Council

Mr Ramsay said the evening was "all cuts".  They have to cut £1.2m to £4.9m this year and £4m over the next 4 years.  Staff numbers have fallen from 603 in 2006 to 387 now.  He claimed frontline services had not been affected, but conceded it depended on your definition of what was.  They could have saved £½m by having fortnightly bin collections but decided not to (audience seemed to agree).  He complained that they collect £31m in business rates but only get a fraction back, they had been told they would be allowed to keep more, but this turned out to be they kept the same sum instead of paying all to the government and receiving it back again!  They have saved money by joint ventures with many authorities, especially Dartford.

He said they will be getting a "New Homes Bonus" from the government worth about £10,000 per month.  This arises from the fact they have built more houses than the government's target.  This money will be put into a community chest where councillors will bid for and decide how to spend it.

Mr Abraham announced that the Paraolympic cycling road race and time trials will be based at Brands Hatch.  He didn't know if they will go through Hartley.

Mr Gaywood said by the end of this term he will have served 12 years at Sevenoaks which is enough for anyone.  He defended the cuts, saying they must happen because the country was broke.  It was not party political it was a fact of life, he said.  He hoped they didn't affect people too much, although he admitted many will lose their jobs.  He is back on the planning committee which was close to his heart.  He doesn't want Hartley to be a town or join with the another village, and doesn't like backland development.  He opposes inappropriate development that he (and the public) doesn't like.  He will fight developers, people and even the planning inspectorate when they are not doing right.

10.       Question Time

(a) Manor Field Pavilion - Mr Gibbons asked about progress.  Julie Hoad said plumber will finish next week when it will be able to be used again, and it will have improved security. Mrs Oxtoby said it will cost them thousands, and the street value of the copper stolen was only £30.

(b) Disabled Access - Mr Brooks said lack of drop kerbs at Milestone School meant he couldn't get from Hartley to New Ash Green, but could get to Longfield in his buggy.  He also said the uncut laurel hedge at St Johns Lane/Ash Road junction was such that the buggy had to go in the road.  He's lucky that he only has to use a buggy for 3 months but what about those who have to permanently?  Mr Brazier said it was probably the landowner's responsibility and only in extreme circumstance would the council use its legal powers.  Mrs Speller had heard one council was going to employ a "green gang" to cut the hedge and charge the owner, but no-one could confirm that.

(c) St Margarets, Church Road - Mrs McMahon asked what was happening there.  Mr Ramsay said Mr Johal had applied to build a house at the back and said that was his only plan but applied for a house at the front a year later, which was backland development in reverse.  He lost on appeal and the council went to the magistrates court to make him grass over the front, which he is obliged to maintain.

(d) PACT - the chairman outlined the work of PACT.  She said lack of funds meant community will have to be more involved through groups like this.  She called for more people to attend the next meeting at Wellfield on 6 July.

Meeting closed at 9.47pm