Present: Councillors Miss Sheila Bransfield (Chairman), B Hall, J Inchley, Dr. H Mitchell and Mrs. O’Reilly.
Also Present: KCC Cllr Hibberd, D/Cllrs. Grove and Roberts and R Wade (Clerk to the Council) and, about, 20 members of the public
The minutes of the meeting held on 7th. September 2009 were approved and signed by the Chairman.
Matters Arising: The Chairman reported (i) Traffic Matters No progress had been made as Mike Smith (KCC) had been on sick leave, (ii) the insurance company were being asked whether the damage to the swings was covered by the Council’s insurance policy, (iii) the hedges in Plumstone Road had been cut back; and ; (iv) the Village Phone Box had now been converted to take cards only.
34. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
No apologies for absence were received.
35. DECLARATIONS OF INTERESTNo declarations of interest were made.
36. CO-OPTION TO THE PARISH COUNCIL
The Clerk reported that the vacancy created following the resignation of Ms. Rebecca Shingleton had now been filled by co-option by Dr. Helen Mitchell
37. REPORT OF THE POLICEThe Police were not in attendance to report.
38. VILLAGE HALL – REMOVAL OF FIR TREECllr Ms Bransfield made Members aware of email correspondence received from Birchington Parish Council deploring the circumstances whereby a resident of the Village, allegedly purporting to be a Councillor, had tried to get the public in Birchington to sign a petition opposing the removal of the tree outside Acol Village Hall, without extending the courtesy of advising their Parish Council. Cllr. J Inchley was invited to report:
(i) Statement by Councillor Inchley (as Chairman of the Village Hall Committee) Cllr Inchley reported on the subject of the application to fell the conifer tree in the front of the Hall. The tree had been a gift to the Village when it was planted about 10 years ago. Since that time the tree had grown much larger than had been anticipated. Furthermore, since it had been planted, the Hall had been extended, which had required the creation of a new emergency exit immediately opposite the tree.
He advised that during the summer, a team of volunteers has repainted the outside of the Hall in preparation for the 25th Anniversary celebrations. During that exercise it had been observed that the tree had kept the area damp – which had destroyed a garden bench, and was filling the gutters with debris as well as encouraging the growth of algae on the walls shaded from sunlight.
At a later date the Village Hall Management committee had carried out their annual fabric review to decide on maintenance priorities for the Hall, and also performed a full risk assessment. The risk assessment had revealed that the tree was too near the emergency exit, and would make it difficult to speedily evacuate the Hall if an emergency were to happen- for instance a fire in the kitchen.
Additionally, it had been decided that it would no longer be possible to decorate the tree at Christmas without the expense of hiring a cherry-picker, since the tree was now more than 20 feet tall, and was growing at more than a foot a year. This meant that it would no longer be safe to use ladders for this purpose.
Accordingly, the VHMC had successfully appealed against a temporary tree preservation order placed on the tree, and had subsequently applied for permission to fell the tree. Permission was currently awaited.
The suggestion by some people that the tree was being removed only to allow for the siting of a marquee was totally untrue. Finally Cllr Inchley reported that to compensate for the loss of tree the Village Hall Committee would be planting 10 trees in the Recreation Ground.
(i) Statement by Mrs. Hodgson: Following spurious questions that had been recently received, concerning the ownership of the land upon which the village hall was built and the responsibilities of the Parish Council and the Village Hall Management Committee, the Chairman invited Mrs. Hodgson, as Treasurer to the Village Hall Committee for the last 30 years, to report upon the ownership of the land and the lease entered into between the Church authorities and the Parish Council and the subsequent forming of the Village Hall Management Committee. The Parish Council holds a lease from the local diocese for the land upon which the hall was built. The Committee was set up in accordance with lease requirements to consist of representatives of all organisations that make regular use of the hall. Thereby any decisions concerning maintenance, repairs or hiring are undertaken by hall users.
39. CHAIRMAN’S ANNOUNCEMENTS (i) The Chairman reported that she had attended the Rural Regeneration meeting where it had been announced that an award of £300k has been awarded to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau to enable them to set up a visiting team for outlying rural villages. Updates will be provided to the Parish Council when available and these will be notified to residents.
(ii) The Chairman announced that she had prepared a statement for the meeting that was entirely her own words and not indicative of the opinions of other Parish Councillors and that she had not sought any advice or approval from the Parish Clerk. The statement expressed the Chairman’s disquiet, in particular, at the scurrilous attempt to discredit the Parish Council with regard to the removal of the fir tree in the grounds of the village hall. It had previously been advised that this matter did not come into the jurisdiction of the Parish Council until an official complaint was received from Birchington Parish Council concerning the behaviour of some Acol residents.
The Chairman commented upon the persistent complaints and demands with which the Parish Council has been subjected over the last two years that insult the integrity of the Parish Council. All future requests should be directed to the Clerk or the Chairman. No correspondence will be entered into if communications are deemed to be repetitious and vexatious.
40. CLERK’S REPORT(i) KALC Chairman’s Training Day – It was agreed that the Council would not be represented at the training day.
(ii) Kent/Surrey/Sussex Air Ambulance Service. RESOLVED that the Council make a donation of £50 to the Air Ambulance Service.(iii) Electronic Agenda Documents. It was agreed that TDC be advised that Members would like to receive electronic copies of the agenda documents and that the Clerk advise TDC of the appropriate e-mail addresses.
41. BTCV KENT HERITAGE TREE PROJECTRESOLVED: that the Parish Council support the concept of the BTCV Heritage Tree Project in its application for funding to the Heritage Lottery Fund.
42. CORRESPONDENCE FROM W.R.NORRISThe Chairman reported upon correspondence from Mr. Norris in respect of:
(i) Correspondence in respect of the removal of the fir tree – this matter was dealt with under minute no. 39 above; and
(ii) Footpath from Acol to Monkton – The Chairman reported that this matter had been dealt with at an earlier meeting and that no footpath is shown on the current definitive map although one may have appeared on ancient maps. If a new footpath is suggested (a) this is not within the remit of the Parish Council and such proposals should be directed to KCC; (b) there is no evidence of demand for such a footpath as demonstrated by earlier enquiries and strong support would need to be proved; (c) a footpath as proposed would cross farming land and the owner should be apprised.
44. PARISH COUNCIL BUDGET REQUIREMENTS FOR 2010/11
45. SCHEDULE OF PAYMENTS/FINANCIAL MATTERS
46. REPORT OF COUNCILLOR HIBBERD
47. MATTERS OF REPORT BY MEMBERS