Hartley Matters

A Newsletter from the Friends of Hartley Countryside

Issue 2 - November 2000.

Editorial:

Welcome to the second newsletter from the Friends of Hartley Countryside. Yes, the moment you have all been waiting for has arrived - the results of the Hartley Village Survey on Northfield. But before we get to that, and just to keep you in suspense for a little while longer, we have a few items of news.

'Friends' Barbecue

On the evening of October 6th we held a barbecue to thank all our friends and supporters who have helped over the last year. All had a very enjoyable evening and a donation of 50 was made to Childline from the proceeds of the raffle.

British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV)

As part of our aims to protect the countryside environment of our village, we have become affiliated to the BTCV This affiliation provides access to advice on all manner of countryside projects, together with the provision of training on how to carry out the work.

Guide Dogs for the Blind

Wednesday 11th October was national fund raising day for the National Association of Guide Dogs for the Blind. Local puppy walker Sue Franz and her family held a coffee morning and Bring and Buy sale at their home and, with the help of friends and neighbours, raised the magnificent sum of 500 for this worthy cause.

Northfield - Tenancy

Hartley Parish Council was advised, over a year ago, by their solicitors to do searches before entering into the lease on Northfield. This was to ascertain whether there were any covenants or other legal matters affecting the land they were proposing to jointly lease for 99 years. A minority of Councillors on the Parish Council urged the majority to take their solicitor's advice. They did not do so. In fact they then asked for advice with regard to the tenure of the land, which again they ignored. This lack of business sense will now cost our parish money it can ill afford. It has now been established that there is an Agricultural Tenancy. The 1986 Agricultural Holdings Act confirmed this tenancy. By investigating this Act, it has become clear that the Parish Council will have to pay compensation to terminate the tenure on this land. The question has to be asked why the Parish Council paid at least twice for advice but did not listen to their advisors? (Increase in precept predicted!)

Footpaths

We have noticed that Kent County Council has at last repaired the stile, on the footpath from the comer of Grange Lane down to Hartley Bottom. However, it would have been even better if they had replaced the fence correctly instead of removing the stock fencing which keeps animals from straying.

Rectory Meadow

There have been reports of motorbikes using Rectory Meadow and the piles of fallen timber being set on fire. Let's hope the Parish Council can find a way to preserve this valuable area of chalk grassland.

Wellfield and Hartley Community Association

The "Mini Monster March", on the 22nd October raised 350. Prizes for the fancy dress competition were donated by colleagues and local shops. The Halloween Street Party on 29th October raised 55. Both events are raising money for a community centre and after-school club.

Northfield Harvest

Regular walkers across Northfield may have been puzzled as to why the wheat on this and the adjoining fields wasn't harvested. We understand the reasons are as follows:

1. The combine suffered a major breakdown and a new part had to be obtained from Massey Ferguson.

2. After several days the part arrived incorrectly packed and broken.

3. A temporary repair had to be effected and more time was lost.

When the farmer was able to resume harvesting the weather had changed and although the rain was interspersed by several fine days, the moisture content of the grain was too high for it to be economically harvested and the land was too wet for the heavy machinery involved. However a small acreage of wheat was harvested.

Garden of Remembrance

In response to requests from parishioners the Parish Council have agreed to provide an area where flowers may be placed in memory of those whose ashes are interred in the Garden of Remembrance.

Friends' Web site

Have you visited our Web site yet? As well as information on the local countryside, you will find links to many other web sites of local interest. Even the latest parish council minutes are there!

HARTLEY VILLAGE SURVEY RESULTS

First of all, a huge thanks to all 917 households who found the time to complete the survey. 44.62% of all households in Hartley responded.

Many of you were kind enough to add comments. We consider these to be valuable and have noted all comments:

these, and a copy of the final report, will be made available for anyone to view in the Library. The results will be sent to the Northfield Management Committee and Sevenoaks District Council. Five raised questions concerning the validity/integrity of the survey, which can be guaranteed (please see notes in this Newsletter).

However we will, of course, reply personally to all of you who wrote, in due course.

So what did you say?

In this Newsletter are all the facts and figures represented in table form. This

will enable you to draw your own conclusions. But for convenience, in brief, you feel that:

Questions 1 to 7 - AIMS

Important points of information

1. Northfield should be protected from inappropriate development e.g. housing.

2. Northfield should be retained as "open space".

3. Northfield's ancient woodland and animal habitats should be protected.

4. The local community should be involved in the future of Northfield.

5. A proper plan detailing use and costs should be available prior to any development.

6. An experienced, independent person should be appointed to manage such a— large project (accountable to the Parish Council).

7. The existing sports facilities in the area are seen to be sufficient.

Questions 8 and 9 - FUNDING

Preference is for funding solely by grants, but 32.9% are prepared to contribute to the project by an increase in council taxes (Note: - this appears to be dependent on project type and a small increase is mentioned).

Question 10 ~ USE OF THE LAND

Overwhelmingly you want:

1. Open space for the enjoyment of the countryside.

2. Nature conservation.

3. Part retained in agriculture.

What you definitely did not want:

1. Motorbikes.

2. Rugby.

3. Football.

4. Racetracks.

5. Formal organised sport of any kind.

1. Distribution of surveys was strictly controlled: one survey per household plus a FREEPOST return envelope. No returned survey was accepted unless it was returned in the FREEPOST envelope.

2. Duplicates were only issued at the request of the householder and recorded. This effectively eliminated any duplication of surveys. 7 doubles were received; the original was recorded in each case.

3. Each survey and any duplicate issued -were uniquely identifiable to a household. This effectively eliminated any attempt to bias the survey.

4. The survey was drawn up after careful piloting which identified the main issues concerning Northfield. Residents were also free to add any further points they felt had been missed. All comments were recorded and have been made available in the full report.

5. All households who had not returned their survey 2 weeks before the specified date received a follow up visit/reminder slip.

6. Those households who had not returned their survey by a week before the specified date received a personal call and (if at home) an offer of a duplicate plus a FREEPOST envelope. Those households stating, "Not interested" were recorded.

7. By strictly limiting the survey to one per household it was hoped that this would encourage discussion amongst the household, including children, and a consensus reached which could be detailed on the survey by the taxpayers. It was considered the responsibility of the householders to include the views of children, youths etc..

8. Overleaf you will find actual figures recorded. These relate to the number of households choosing to answer that question.

OVERALL AIMS (Questions 1 to 7).

  YES N0 %YES %NO
Ql. Retained as open space 834 35 96 4
Q2. Protected from inappropriate development 861 18 98 2
Q3. Proper plan detailing use and costs 785 69 91.9 8.1
Q4. Independent experienced person to manage project 658 140 82.5 17.5
Q5. Protect ancient woodland and animal habitats 842 34 95.9 4.1
Q6. Involvement of local community 805 52 93.9 6.1
Q7. Existing sports facilities sufficient 585 233 71.5 28.5

FUNDING (Questions 8 and 9),

  YES NO %YES %NO
Q8. Funded solely by grants 576 207 73.6 26.4
Q9. Prepared to contribute by increase in council tax 275 561 32.9 67.1

USE OF THE LAND (Question 10).

  Choice of options for Northfield YES N0 Preferred choice rank Total preferred choice points
        l 2 3  
1 Open space for enjoyment of the countryside 840 20 417 112 85 1560
2 Nature conservation areas 754 34 83 238 135 860
3 Preservation of areas of archaeological interest 576 112 5 45 96 201
4 Bird watching facilities 537 134 4 23 67 125
5 Part retained in agriculture 672 91 92 133 139 681
6 Informal "knock about" sports area 301 407 7 38 42 139
7 Formal football pitches 142 557 20 13 13 99
8 Jogging track 327 366 2 23 17 69
9 Horse riding track 297 400 10 12 21 75
10 Children's playground 379 358 39 36 57 246
11 Golf course/driving range 66 608 5 4 11 34

The preferred choices were "weighted" to give a fair representation, the first choice was given 3 points, second choice 2 points and third choice 1 point. The points were then added for each choice and recorded in the table.

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