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Hartley Annual Parish Meeting 12.5.17

Parish Council:
This year's meeting was at the Church Hall and ran from 7.45 - 9.30 pm. All councillors except Cllr Rogers were in attendance along with Cllr Brazier (KCC), Cllrs Gaywood & Kelly (SDC) and 29 members of the public. Gareth Johnson was billed to attend, but the chairman Cllr Oxtoby, said that as a general election has been called he is no longer an MP and she didn't want to invite all the candidates.
(Annual Parish Meeting 12 May 2017)

Planning: House building
Cllr Robert Piper, the cabinet member at Sevenoaks District Council spoke about future housing provision. He said up until now Sevenoaks had got away with murder because their current target is only 165 houses per year. The government has ordered them to produce a new plan with a target of 12,400 hourse in 20 years - 620 per year, and will take over if the council doesn't produce a plan. This has involved a lot of evidence based work which will lead to a public consultation in the summer, then a first draft and then final submission to the planning inspectorate in late 2018, who has the final decision.

He outlined some of the background. Sevenoaks has 49,400 houses and zero net migration but the population of the UK is rising and there is internal migration to the south-east. 93% of the district is green belt land, and most of the site nominations they have received to meet this target are from developers wanting to build in the Green Belt. Another problem is that developers do not build all the sites they have now, London has outstanding planning permissions for 250,000 homes.

As for the target he says the council will propose 8-9,000 and hope the inspector accepts this. This is made up of existing known sites, brownfield greenbelt sites and exceptional sites such as quarries. In Hartley the sites that will go forward are Chapelwood Enterprises (20), Rear of Olinda Ash Road (30), Park House Church Road (10), Grosvenor Church Road (25).

He said their target of an extra 51 gypsy site pitches can be easily met within existing sites without planning for more.

Audience members raised concerns about other sites known to have been nominated, but he said they would not go forward. Concerns were also raised about infrastructure effects in particular doctors' surgeries. He said it was an issue for the county council, but unfortunately in the UK we have a tradition of building first and then thinking about the infrastructure. Cllr Gaywood said later in the meeting that he felt he was elected to protect the green belt and didn't think they should be forced to do the government's bidding.
(Annual Parish Meeting 12 May 2017)

Crime: Policing
PCSO Peter Jones spoke about the fall in the number of PCSOs in recent years. Once Sevenoaks district had 25, now it is 15, 3 office based and 12 operational. The reduction in numbers has led to New Ash Green being added to his Hartley area. A spike in crime and anti-social behaviour in NAG has meant he has had to spend a lot of his time there. Crime levels in Hartley are broadly static. There were no questions for him from the audience.

Jackie West, the Community Warden for Hartley and West Kingsdown gave a report of the work of wardens in general and herself in the last year.
(Annual Parish Meeting 12 May 2017)

Parish Council: Annual Report
Cllr Oxtoby (chairman) said she wasn't going to repeat what was in the printed report given to everyone at the meeting. She mentioned that Cllr Brian Ramsay had resigned and thanked him for all the work he had done for the council and village.
(Annual Parish Meeting 12 May 2017)

Parish Council: Finance
The chairman of the Finance Committee, Cllr Bennett, gave a report to the meeting. She said she had just taken on the role but does have a background in accountancy, although she is still learning the intricacies of local government finance. She reported a surplus of £17,000 after additional expenditure this year of £17,000 on Chantry Avenue play equipment. She said the general reserve was unchanged.

Mr Senneck asked whether they were going to spend money on the village hall, he was told that they did need to spend money on it but because the parish council does not run it directly, the hall trustees would have to apply to the Parish Council for a grant. Mr Mayer referred to the fact that the money reserves had been rising rapidly in recent years, it had gone up £80,000 in 3 years and had risen from £242,000 to £259,000 in the last year. Might some people think the council tax is too high? Cllr Bennett said they would look at the precept later in the year. Cllr Oxtoby said the precept had been unchanged this year, Mr Mayer replied that it went up a lot recently when the council feared it would be rate capped.
(Annual Parish Meeting 12 May 2017)

Kent County Council: Annual Report
Cllr Brazier joked that he had just scraped through at the election (He got 78% of the vote!). He said Kent County Council want to be a mainly commissioning authority, although some in house bids have been won. He regretted they have lost thousands of good and loyal staff to meet government targets. They have set up arms length companies to run education and legal services, and in spite of the drive for academies they have schools like New Ash Green Primary that are determined to remain local authority run. On a better note the financial settlement from the government this year has been the best for years, with an extra £56m for social care.

On highways he said when he tries to get things done they have to go through the highways manager and be scheduled in; this can lead to delays. Cllr Brazier said there are 1.6 million residents in Kent and everyone is a highways engineer.All councillors get a budget to spend on local projects; he is often under pressure to use his for routine road maintenance, but he will not do that as that is the job of the Highways Department. He has spent money on the Speed Indicator Display Unit and a traffic survey at Wellfield, and will part pay for a crossing at Wellfield. He said speed surveys show it is only a serious problem at the Black Lion on Ash Road. A resident of Billings Hill Shaw said local road surfaces were terrible and cited the example of St John's Lane. Although it was due to be closed for repairs, he was concerned that KCC only do bodge repairs. Cllr Brazier also referred to fly tipping which they believe is mainly household not commercial waste.

He also said Kent County Council were worried about the possible end of the Le Touquet agreement which would bring border controls back to Kent. If this happens the government has said they will reimburse the additional costs, but their experience that it is paid late and never completely.
(Annual Parish Meeting 12 May 2017)

Sevenoaks Council: Annual Report
Cllr Abraham is to be chairman of the council next year. Cllr Gaywood said it was better when he was chairman, as then they were transported in a chauffeur driven limousine. The council has won an award for Council of the Year for financial innovation, and also one for dementia services. To questions from the public Cllr Kelly said there was no plan to change from sacks to bins for rubbish collection. Mr Mayer referred to a recent article in the Kent Messenger that found Sevenoaks had one of the lowest recycling rates in Kent - why would that be? Cllr Abraham said it was the fault of householders, but some members of the audience said they had seen clear recycling sacks being put with black sacks. Cllr Kelly thought they were sorted at the Dunbrick depot.
(Annual Parish Meeting 12 May 2017)

Parish Council: Question Time
In the general question time, Mr Glander asked who would enforce the new yellow lines proposed for Wellfield? Cllr Kelly said the parking enforcement officers would be told to do so. However some in the audience were skeptical that they would come out this far very often. Residents from the Parkfield Estate were present, and they said the parking problem had spread to their roads too.

Mr Gibbons asked about the Parliamentary Boundary Review, which threatened a move for Hartley from Dartford to Sevenoaks Constituencies. Cllr Alford said there had been representationst to remain in Dartford Constituency but a decision was not due until next year.
(Annual Parish Meeting 12 May 2017)

Posted on 14 May 2017 by administrator
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