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Parish Council - February Report
Public Questions
(a) Police - Hartley's PCSOs Vincent and Rowbottam said they would try to attend council meetings to give an update. In the last year total crime has fallen locally by almost half, with burglaries down 77%, but anti-social behaviour was up 18%. Recently there have been shed break ins and car damage on one night. They are trying to revive neighbourhood watch, beginning with Gorse Way

(b) Burial Ground - Members of the audience said the Standards Officer at Sevenoaks is now investigating two councillors over the issue of the refusal to allow a small photo on a grave. They asked whether the councillors in question will stand down? And they said councillors are elected serve and not just give their opinion.

(c) WI Hall - Dr Roberts said she knows from personal experience that halls are costly to run. She asked whether the council subsidise the WI Hall. Cllr Gaywood said they would have to see how much it costs and go from there.

(d) Glass Collection - Mr Mayer asked whether Sevenoaks Council would collect glass with other recyclables, now Hartley has no recycling centre. The answer was no.

Amenities & Open Spaces
(a) Snow clearance - council advised they have a legal duty to take reasonable care for the safety of visitors on their land, which could mean snow clearance from paths. Their insurers said they could grit paths provided they inspected to see it was done and recorded it. Therefore council vote 6-1 (Cllr Abraham) to close the Manor Field pavilion in severe weather, they agreed that the clerk would decide when to close it. Cllr Minns expressed concern at the problems this would cause some hirers such as wedding receptions. They also voted 8-0 to tell their insurers that they won't clear snow as they don't have the staff.

(b) Manor Field - they agreed 8-0 to accept various tenders amounting to nearly £1,700 to relocate a dilapidated meter cupboard.

(c) Woodland Avenue - the presence of harmful spindle plant was reported to the council.

(d) Grass cutting - they agreed 8-0 to accept quotes amounting to £7,000 from Westcut mowing to cut open spaces every 2 weeks and also Longfield Hill and Manor Field.

(e) Recycling bins - Sevenoaks have no intention of replacing them; council to ask for its return. Mrs Hoad said they had received some complaints. Cllr Ramsay said they cost £3,000 each, he is not going to insist they spend money on bins, people can go to Longfield instead. Cllr Barnett said they had been there for 15 years without being vandalised.

Burial Grounds
(a) Photos on memorials - following a complaint that the council's ban on photos contravened equality and human rights laws, the council claimed they had legal advice
supporting them (in a report that was not available to the public). The committee recommended that photos should continue to be banned. At the full council there were divergent views. Cllr Coates said it was not a new idea and asked what was the difference with existing stones with a fish and dog engraved on them. He reminded the council that there is one grave with a photo already before the ban, and no-one has ever complained about that. The council should be amending rules to respect cultural diversity. He finds it surprising that at this very meeting they plan to amend another of the rules because people don't like it. He was supported by Cllr Sewell. Cllr Ramsay said Cllr Graeme said he will support regulations now, but the council should look at them in the future. Cllr Abraham said he wasn't allowed the words he wanted on a grave in Fawkham Churchyard but respected the rules. Cllr Ramsay said they can't keep changing the rules. He says he represents older people and those he's spoken to are in favour of the ban. He said it was consecrated ground where the faith community bury their relatives. Can't change rules to suit whim of fashion. Rules are based on Church of England rules. Cllr Minns supported Cllr Ramsay. When put the vote 6 were in favour and 2 against (Cllr Coates & Sewell); Cllr Granger abstained.

(b) Grass cutting and gardening contract 2010-12 - awarded to TD Munday at £3,300 pa.

(c) Charges - most charges increased by 4-10%.

(d) Turfing of graves - following objections by 7 owners to graves being turved, the council agreed not to force them to do so, and they agreed 7 - 2 (Cllrs Coates and Sewell) to amend the rule to allow this. Cllr Coates pointed out the different treatment of the rules in this case, Cllr Oxtoby claimed there was a "groundswell" to change it.

(e) All Saints' Churchyard - council complained to the PCC about steps from church to the council burial ground.

(f) New Burial Ground - to be sown with "sports ground mixture" grass.

The subcommittee had been informed that Ash Printing and Setting are retiring, so they discussed alternative ways of producing and distributing their newsletter. They also were informed that the Council has attained again the "Quality Council" marque.

Finance and General Purposes
(a) Youth shelter - there were no reports of anti-social behaviour at the Woodland Avenue shelter

(b) WI Hall - more legal advice from the Charity Commission and the solicitor the council has employed. They plan to meet the WI to discuss matters further.

(a) Wellfield - a resident had called for traffic calming. Council said probably nothing can be done because there was no streetlighting and it was on a bus route.

(b) Cold weather salting - Council called for St Johns Lane, Wellfield and Woodland Avenue to be on gritting route as the buses travel down them. Cllr Brazier said that in the recent cold spell, gritting of secondary roads such as Church Road were delayed but eventually done. He offered to pay for a salt bin requested for Parkfield from his grant allocation (it had only scored 100 in KCC assessment and 185 was needed), but HPC would have to fill it with salt. Committee didn't support that as they said it only benefitted a small area of the parish and others would want one too. It was discussed at full council. Problems of theft like at Copse Side recently were referred to, as well as concerns that KCC were avoiding their responsibility in this area. Cllr Sewell thought it would make a rod for the council's back, and said HPC was not a
municipal borough. Voted 9-0 not to pay for salt at Parkfield. Hartley has 4 salt bins at present with a new one promised for Quakers Close.

(c) Traffic Regulation Order at Schools - Sevenoaks plan to pass such an order which would mean they can enforce no parking on zig zag lines outside schools.

Payments for February of £6,200 were agreed.
Posted on 06 Mar 2010 by administrator
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